Helios Airways Flight 522

Coordinates: 38°13.894′N 23°58.214′E / 38.231567°N 23.970233°E / 38.231567; 23.970233
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Helios Airways Flight 522
5B-DBY, the Boeing 737-31S involved in the accident
Date14 August 2005 (2005-08-14)
SummaryCrashed following crew incapacitation due to loss of pressurization
SiteGrammatiko, Marathon, Greece
38°13.894′N 23°58.214′E / 38.231567°N 23.970233°E / 38.231567; 23.970233
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-31S
Aircraft nameOlympia
OperatorHelios Airways
IATA flight No.ZU522
ICAO flight No.HCY522
Call signHELIOS 522
Flight originLarnaca International Airport, Larnaca, Cyprus
StopoverAthens International Airport, Greece
DestinationPrague Ruzyně Int'l Airport, Prague, Czech Republic

On August 14, 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 covered the route between Larnaca International Airport (Cyprus), and Ruzyně International Airport (Prague, Czech Republic), with a stopover in Athens (Greece). The aircraft, a Boeing 737, collided with a mountain at 09:04 UTC on that day, near Grammatiko, 40 km north of Athens (with 115 passengers and six crew members on board), while on approach to Athens airport capital. All people on board died.[1][2]

It is the deadliest aviation disaster in Greek history.

Flight crew[change | change source]

The flight captain was Hans-Jürgen Merten, a 59-year-old German pilot hired by Helios for the holiday season, who had been flying for 35 years and had a total of 16,900 flight hours, 5,500 of them on Boeing 737s.

The first officer was Pampos Charalambous, a 51-year-old Cypriot pilot who had flown exclusively on Helios for the last five years, accumulating 7,549 flight hours throughout his career, 3,991 of them on the Boeing 737.

Chronology[change | change source]

Date: 14 August 2005
All times Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) (UTC + 3) in 24 h format
Time Event
09:00 Scheduled departure
09:07 Departs Larnaca International Airport
09:12 Cabin Altitude Warning sounds at
12,040 feet (3,670 m)
09:14 Pilots report air conditioning problem
09:20 Last contact with crew;
Altitude is 28,900 feet (8,809 m)
09:23 Now at 34,000 feet (10,400 m);
Probably on autopilot
09:37 Enters Athens flight information region;
Nicosia ATC informs Athens ATC that
radio contact has been lost.[3]:17 Aircraft begins circling Athens on autopilot
10:12–10:50 No response to radio calls from Athens ATC
10:45 Scheduled arrival in Athens
10:54 Athens Joint Rescue Coordination Centre
alerted to possible renegade aircraft[3]:18
11:05 Two F-16 fighters depart Nea Anchialos
11:24 Located by F-16s over Aegean island of Kea
11:32 Fighters see co-pilot slumped over,
cabin oxygen deployed, no signs of terrorism
11:49 Fighters see an individual in the cockpit,
apparently trying to regain control of aircraft
11:50 Left (#1) engine stops operating,
presumably due to fuel depletion
11:54 CVR records a total of five mayday messages
12:00 Right (#2) engine stops operating
12:04 Aircraft crashes in mountains
near Grammatiko, Greece

Passengers[change | change source]

The bodies of 118 people were recovered.[4] The passenger list included 93 adults and 22 children. The passengers comprised 103 Cypriot nationals and 12 Greek nationals.[5]

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
Cyprus 103 4 107
Germany 0 1 1
Greece 12 1 13
Total 115 6 121

Cause[change | change source]

The cause of the accident was due to the fact that after takeoff, as the aircraft gained altitude, a failure when configuring the pressurization regulator caused the loss of consciousness of both the pilots and the passengers due to hypoxia, turning the aircraft into at that time in a "ghost flight" that was only kept flying by the operation of the autopilot. Finally, already over Greek territory, it hit a hill due to lack of fuel.

Other accidents[change | change source]

The accident was the largest in the history of Greek aviation, along with one of the most serious in August 2005, a dark month for commercial aviation, which also featured, among others, the tragedies of West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 and TANS Perú Flight 204.

References[change | change source]

  1. Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-31S 5B-DBY Grammatikos". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  2. Ranter, Harro. "Greece air safety profile". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 25 March 2022. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Aircraft Accident Report: Helios Airways Flight HCY522 at Grammatiko, Greece on 14 August 2005" (PDF). Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board. 4 October 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  4. "Greek "Αεροπορική τραγωδία" Flash.GR" [Greek "Air tragedy" Flash.GR]. flash.gr (in Greek). 2005-08-15. Archived from the original on 2005-08-15. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  5. "Ο κατάλογος των θυμάτων ERT" [The list of ERT victims]. ert.gr (in Greek).[permanent dead link]

Other websites[change | change source]