Controllers blamed for deadly air crash

The Supreme Court has upheld a previous ruling which found two air-traffic controllers responsible for one of Greece’s deadliest air disasters, when a Ukrainian airliner crashed into a mountain in Pieria, northern Greece, eight years ago, killing all 74 people aboard, court sources said yesterday. The two air-traffic controllers who had been on duty at Thessaloniki airport on the night of December 17, 1997, were guilty of making several mistakes and omissions in their attempts to guide the Yakovlev aircraft to land, according to the December 2000 appeals court ruling. The court had issued suspended jail sentences of four years and four months to both Ioannis Yiannakopoulos and Adamandios Frangiadoulis. The controllers repeatedly erred in assessing signals issued by the pilot and failed to grasp the gravity of the situation, the court ruled. They should have instructed the pilot to raise the aircraft to a safe altitude before contacting the Hortiati military radar station for help in determining the plane’s exact location, according to the court, which also attributed some blame to the Ukrainian carrier and the eight-strong crew.

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