Falcon pilots ‘reacted properly’

The pilots of a government jet in which seven passengers were killed following a freak accident over two and a half years ago responded correctly to the emergency, the last man to fly the Falcon jet before the tragedy said yesterday, during the two airmen’s trial for manslaughter. Meanwhile, responding to criticism that only the family of the two VIP victims has received compensation from Olympic Airways, the national carrier said yesterday that all claims are being handled by Greece’s state National Insurance firm. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and his son, Nikos, were among the seven victims, which included journalists and diplomats accompanying the official on a visit to Romania on September 14, 1999. Olympic Airways pilot Gerasimos Alisandrakis, who flew the French-made light jet used by the prime minister and other cabinet members to Brussels the day before the accident, told an Athens court that the violent rolling dive over Romania was initially caused by a malfunction in the autopilot. «The following dives and climbs were caused by the pilot’s handling of the controls,» he said. But he stressed that the pilot «could have done no more than he did.» Regarding the co-pilot, Alisandrakis said his failure to take hand of the controls «is an indication of calmness and responsibility.» He added that the jet presented inherent malfunctions. «It was difficult to know what the Falcon wanted,» he said. Olympic issued a statement yesterday saying that its aircraft, crews and passengers are insured with National, Greece’s biggest insurance company, with Heath of London as a reinsurer. «The satisfaction of compensation demands concerning victims of the accident is a matter between the victims and National Insurance, and does not concern Olympic,» OA said.