Petition to re-open the Helios Accident Investigation

March 20, 2013

On August 14, 2005, a Cypriot airliner, Flight 522, crashed near Athens with the loss of all 121 passengers, whilst flying from Larnaca, Cyprus.

Regarding this tragic accident, allegations were made, and criminal charges rose against the Bulgarian aviation professional Capt. Ianko Stoimenov. The ITF and the ETF are rightfully criticising the over-zealous prosecution of aviation professionals in Greece and Cyprus.

Unfortunately, this act of criminalisation is based on an abuse of the investigation and is being used to cover up the structural defects –particularly problems with regards to safety- of liberalised and deregulated markets. The prosecution of Capt. Ianko Stoimenov will not only victimise an innocent aviation professional but will also be detrimental to the aviation industry’s safety culture.

This tragic crash and many other plane crashes have all taken place against a background of ruthless competition, liberalisation and price cutting in the European, US and global airline industry. Faced with the additional burden of external shocks and soaring fuel prices, etc., there has been an enormous pressure on airlines to cut corners, turn around planes faster and demand longer working times from pilots, ground crew and the planes themselves.

Helios Airways was a case in point in this respect. Before the accident, it had been facing fierce competition and had been under huge pressure. Demetris Pantazis, its managing director, had a reputation for being very tough on costs. The investigation report contains so many examples of such cuts, all undermining flight safety. Deregulation, accompanied by intense market competition can lead to a serious compromising of safety standards, and this was the case with the Helios crash.

When such tragic crashes happen much of the media prefers to concentrate on the so-called “personal angle.” What is being done to Capt. Ianko Stoimenov is mainly a projection of the same misleading method. The ITF firmly believes that any objective investigation of this and other aviation disasters must closely examine —in addition to the immediate technical causes— the entire framework of modern air travel and the consequences arising from the liberalisation and deregulation of the skies.

We urge our affiliates, and everybody who is concerned with aviation safety and the protection of aviation professionals against criminalisation, to sign an online petition here >>


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