Two years on, Helios relatives sue Cyprus

Cypriot relatives of passengers killed when an airliner ran out of oxygen and slammed into a Greek hillside are claiming damages from the state, arguing that Cyprus’s civil aviation authority was at fault, their lawyer said on Saturday. Lawyer Andreas Papacharalambous told CyBC state radio that relatives had filed 23 lawsuits in Cypriot courts claiming that negligence and foot-dragging by civil aviation led to the Helios Airways crash on August 14, 2005. He said conclusions by accident investigators plus eyewitness testimony supported the argument that the state bore some responsibility for the crash that killed all 121 on board the Boeing 737-300. Relatives claim Helios should have had its license revoked before the crash when it failed to meet air safety standards but an overly lenient civil aviation allowed operations to continue. The lawyer said the compensation claims, filed before the Cyprus courts on Thursday, ranged from 250,000 to 1 million Cyprus pounds (427,000 to 1.71 million euros). Papacharalambous said the legal process could take up to two years. Last month, relatives also filed claims in Greece, demanding 76 million euros from US aircraft maker Boeing. The damages claim was based on the belief that confusing sound alarms had contributed to the cutting of oxygen to the cabin, and the crash. Earlier last week, Greek crash investigator Akrivos Tsolakis was quoted as saying that around 200 incidents involving Boeing’s air pressure system have been recorded, with disaster only being avoided at the last minute. (AFP)