NEWS

Unanswered questions still lurk

Sunday’s crash raises a number of questions which need to be answered to completely clarify the circumstances of the accident. – Did Helios Airways follow international flight safety standards? – If it is true that Cyprus’s Civil Aviation Authority lacks certain specialists and has not yet been completely assessed by the European Union, how valid were the certificates of approval for Helios’s operation? – How much fuel was pumped into the aircraft before its departure from Larnaca airport? – What was the record of the aircraft involved in the accident? Preliminary evidence reveals that, in 2003, it was forced to perform an emergency landing in Rhodes; in 2004 cabin pressure fell en route to Larnaca; earlier this year, it was grounded for 24 hours at Newcastle airport; and, a few weeks ago, passengers had become aware of cabin pressure problems. Given that record, why was it still flying? – What was the level of training of Helios’s staff for emergencies? – In view of the fact that the company could only give approximate ages for its flight attendants («between 20 and 30»), did it keep adequate records of its employees? – Did the Athens flight control tower react promptly to the situation? Why did it try to communicate with the aircraft 30 minutes after it entered Greek air space? – What exactly happened to incapacitate both the pilot and co-pilot at the same time? – Why didn’t one of the pilots put his mask on when the other exited the cockpit? – Why did the airplane’s double layer of security systems fail to operate? – Did the problem start when, at 14,000 feet, the pilots requested of the Larnaca flight control tower to remain at that height in order to tackle a problem with the air conditioning? If so, why did the airplane subsequently climb to 34,000 feet? Did the pilots consider the problem fixed?