ETF and ITF call for re-opening of Helios Airways accident investigation

18 Jan 2013

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and ITF have written to the Greek ambassador to Belgium and the Greek ministers of justice and transport to urge Greece to re-open the Helios Airways accident investigation following new evidence.

All 121 people on board were killed when Helios Airways Flight 522 crashed into a mountain on 14 August 2005 in Greece, whilst flying from Larnaca, Cyprus. The ETF and ITF are concerned about the criminalisation of the accident and what they call the over-zealous prosecution of aviation professionals in Greece and Cyprus.

In the letters, sent on 14 January, ETF general secretary Eduardo Chagas and ITF general secretary David Cockroft said: “It has come to our attention that the Greek air accident investigation report appears grossly incorrect with regard to the cause of this accident and the alleged errors or omissions of the crew of the accident flight …  Regrettably the obstinacy of the Greek AAI&ASB [Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board] in refusing to re-open the accident investigation despite the new and significant evidence has left the real causes of the accident unattended.

“As a result, allegations were made and criminal charges rose against the Bulgarian aviation professional Capt. Ianko Stoimenov. This Capt. is known in the industry as an exemplary model for professional standards and as a person dedicated to aviation safety. Our [Bulgarian] affiliate, FTTUB, declare their trust in the innocence of Capt. Ianko Stoimenov and their support in his legal cause… We strongly believe that the Appellative Court in Athens must consider all facts being brought to their attention, and must deliver their verdict being impartial and emotionally unattached.”

The letters also warn that this abuse of the investigation will be detrimental to the aviation industry’s safety culture.