Helios managers to appeal jail sentences for manslaughter

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A Greek court has jailed four men for 10 years each following their conviction for manslaughter by negligence relating to the 2005 crash of a Boeing 737-200 operated by Cypriot carrier Helios Airways.

On 14 August 2005 the Helios 737 took off from Larnaca, Cyprus for Athens with its pressurisation control set to manual rather than automatic, which the crew failed to take note of in their pre-flight checks. The aircraft failed to pressurise because the outflow valves were two-thirds open and the crew did not attempt to apply manual control to them, believing that the control was in the automatic position. The crew misinterpreted the pressurisation alert that sounded as the aircraft climbed, and they eventually succumbed to hypoxia.

The aircraft flew its entire route, as far as the final approach fix for Athens, on autopilot guided by the flight director, before running out of fuel in the holding pattern. All 121 people on the aircraft died in the crash.

The Athens court passed guilty verdicts on Helios' managing director Demetris Pantazis, operations manager George Kikkides, chief pilot Ianko Stoimenov, and the engineering manager Alan Irwin. The same case had previously been brought in a Cyprus court against Pantazis, Kikkides, and Stoimenov, and they were acquitted of all charges. The Cyprus prosecution did not even indict Irwin.

The defendants have been released on €10,000 ($13,110) bail pending an appeal.