Simulation Flight Included Partial Cabin Depressurization
Experts now report a
flight attendant was at the controls of a Helios Airways 737 for as
long as 12 minutes before it went down on a Greek hillside
August 14, killing all 121 people on board.
The simulations showed the flight steward, whose name was not
released but analysts said had some flight training experience,
took over the controls after it became clear the regular crew and
passengers had been incapacitated.
"We have indications that (he) controlled the plane. He took a
portable oxygen device and opened the cockpit door using a code,"
said Seraphim Kamoutsis, head of the Greek investigations team.
The information comes after aviation analysts re-enacted the
737-300 flight from Larnaca, Cyprus to Prague using a similar
Olympia Airlines 737. According to the BBC, the analysts went so
far as to partially decompress the cabin in an attempt to pinpoint
what may have gone wrong on the doomed flight.
An F-16 also flew alongside the plane, just as fighters did
after they were scrambled to intercept the Helios airliner
after its crew failed to acknowledge communications.
Still unknown is what exactly caused the passengers and crew
onboard the Helios flight to lose consciousness. As was previously reported in
Aero-News, however, the aircraft involved in the fatal
accident had experienced a cabin depressurization incident shortly
before the accident occurred.
The experts said the simulation did not make clear if the flight
attendant actually had full control of the aircraft, or if he had
simply grabbed the controls. The analysts said, however, the flight
gave them valuable information towards determining the cause of the
"We got what we wanted from the flight," chief investigator
Akrivos Tsolakis told a news conference following the simulation
flight. He did not elaborate.