Helios pilots suffered from heart problems

The pilot and co-pilot who were at the controls of the doomed Helios Airways plane which crashed north of Athens last month both suffered from heart problems, according to comments made by the coroner who examined the remains of the 121 people killed in the accident. Philippos Koutsaftis said that the arteries of 58-year-old German pilot Hans Juergen Merten were 45 percent blocked while those of his Cypriot co-pilot, 50-year-old Pambos Charalambous, were 90 percent blocked. The coroner could not say whether the men’s heart conditions had any bearing on the events of August 14. However, the findings have raised a number of questions as pilots over the age of 40 undergo a medical examination every six months and are not allowed to fly if their arteries are more than 50 percent blocked. Sofia Charalambou, the wife of the co-pilot, told Kathimerini that her husband’s last checkup was on April 28 and no problem had been detected. Meanwhile, the team investigating the worst air crash to have occurred in Greece is due to travel to Germany this week to speak with Merten’s family as it continues to gather information that could prove vital to explaining the accident.

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