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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Human error caused Helios crash
The wreckage of the Helios flight
The plane slammed into a hillside near Athens
A series of human errors caused Cyprus's worst airline disaster, a Greek inquiry report has concluded.

The Cypriot Helios Airways Boeing 737-300 crashed near Athens in August 2005, killing all 121 people on board.

The flight from Larnaca to Prague flew on autopilot for nearly two hours before running out of fuel and slamming into a hillside.

The report said the pilots misread instruments regulating cabin pressure and misinterpreted a warning signal.

'Ineffective' measures

Maintenance officials on the ground were also blamed for leaving pressure controls on an incorrect setting.

In addition, the plane's manufacturers Boeing took "ineffective" measures in response to previous pressurisation incidents in the particular type of aircraft, the report said.

The plane was starved of oxygen as it gained altitude, which rendered the pilots and passengers unconscious.

Two Greek air force fighter jets were scrambled when the aircraft lost radio contact.

Their flight crew saw the Boeing's pilots slumped over the controls and a flight attendant struggling to control the aircraft before it crashed.


Helios Airways - which is now known as Ajet Airways - also came in for criticism, with the report finding "deficiencies" in its organisation, while the Cypriot regulatory authority was accused of "inadequate execution of its safety oversight responsibilities".

The airline declined to comment until it saw the contents of the report.

Both Boeing and the Cypriot authorities have since taken steps to correct a number of recommendations made by Greek investigators, the report said.

Relatives mourn the victims of the Helios crash
The crash was the worst aviation accident in Cypriot history
The air industry had been eagerly awaiting the report by the commission investigating the accident. The Helios disaster was regarded as one of the most puzzling in aviation history.

The airliner crashed on 14 August, 2005. Most of the victims were Cypriots, many of them young children.

Victims' relatives said those responsible should be brought to justice.

"I hope that it helps gain closure," said Nicolas Yiasoumis, who lost his brother, sister-in-law and nine-year-old niece in the crash.

Boeing said it cooperated with the investigation and had provided comments to the draft version.

"We'll take whatever actions that are necessary to maintain fleet safety," said Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier.

The crew had not noticed their oxygen supply was failing

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16 Aug 05 |  Europe
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