OPINION

Global impact of crash

Our globalized world relies upon international transportation and real-time information. Thus, it was to be expected that a dramatic event, like last week’s crash of the Helios Airways Boeing 737 into a mountainside in Grammatiko that killed all 121 passengers, would hit newspaper headlines and television news bulletins throughout the globe. Air travel is now easier and cheaper than at any other time in history. Virtually all of the world’s carriers use the same type of aircraft – American-made Boeings and European Airbuses. As a result, aviation disasters inevitably draw the attention not only of air travelers but also of those who are responsible for flight safety. For that reason, there are international agreements defining transnational cooperation in the investigation of accidents and the clarification of circumstances surrounding them. An accident is caused by a specific problem or by a chain of problems. Whenever experts come up with evidence of an unprecedented failure, aviation technicians and pilot trainers are informed of the details so that they can take safety measures to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. Airplanes undergo constant safety inspections. Airline accidents like this mysterious crash of the Cypriot airliner – which appears to have been downed by a combination of problems, errors and omissions – become the subjects of international scrutiny. Experts investigate the wreckage, the circumstances of the accident, the safety policy of the air carrier and the reaction of the civil aviation officials. In this context, Athens asked for help from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration and the Boeing company on the very day the accident took place. This is what Greece’s aviation authorities have failed to grasp: At stake is not only what caused the fate of this aircraft and the legal status of these particular airliners, but also Greece’s national security and international image.