ETF: Petition to re-open the Helios Accident Investigation

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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