On August 14, 2005 at approximately 12:04 p.m local Greek time, a Helios Airline Boeing 737-300, registered in Cyprus as 5B-DBY crashed into rolling terrain north northeast of Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (LGAV), Athens, Greece. The nearest town to the crash site was Gramitikos, Greece. The aircraft had departed Larnaka Airport, Cyprus, two hours and 57 minutes prior to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Greece that consisted of a US Accredited Representative, and specialists in the areas of operations, aircraft structures, and aircraft systems. Upon arrival, this team joined investigators from the Greek Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, the Boeing Company, and CFM, the aircraft's engine manufacturer.

According to the AAIASB, during climbout as the aircraft passed 12,000 feet, the cabin altitude warning horn sounded. The captain then began radio communications with his company maintenance base at Larnaka. This communication lasted until the aircraft passed 28,900 feet. The aircraft was on autopilot at the time and followed its FMCS inserted route. It subsequently passed over LGAV, its planned destination, at 34,000 feet and entered the missed approach holding pattern.

Two Hellenic Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft intercepted the aircraft and one of the pilots noticed that the captain's seat was empty and the first officer's seat was occupied by an incapacitated person. Shortly thereafter, one person was seen to enter the cockpit wearing an oxygen mask.

After 1 hour and 12 minutes in the holding pattern the left engine flamed out due to fuel starvation and 10 minutes later the right engine also flamed out. The cabin altitude warning horn subsequently stopped sounding after the aircraft later descended below 10,000 feet during its final descent.

Both the flight data recorder and the flight recorder were recovered from the crash site and were processed successfully by the French BEA. Numerous components from the aircraft pressurization system were also recovered and will be examined at the Boeing facility in Seattle, Washington. Numerous interviews were conducted with Helios company officials and Helios maintenance personnel.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of Greece. Further information may be obtained from:

Ministry of Transport and Communication
Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board
Ex. American Base, Building 221
Helliniko, GR 167 01 Athens, Greece
Telephone: 30 210 99 73 024
Fax: 30 210 99 73 184

This report is for informational purposes only, and only contains information released by the Government of Greece.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page