Hijacking cause for the downing of Helios 737?

Was the Helios Airways Boeing 737 heading towards Prague hijacked?

Let’s weigh and consider.

From The Australian:

HIJACKERS or faulty airconditioning are the key suspects behind Greece's worst air disaster, after a Cypriot airliner with 121 people aboard hurtled into rugged hills just 10km from Athens airport last night.

From The Courier-Mail:

HIJACKING was believed responsible for the crash of a Cypriot airliner with 121 people on board last night.

From Sofia News Agency:

A spokesman for the Greek army chief of staff said as quoted by BBC that the possibility of hijacking the Cypriot plane could not immediately be ruled out.

From Gulf Daily News:

PARIS: A pressurisation failure could not on its own have caused the crash of the Cypriot airliner killing 122 people near Athens, French experts said last night.

From Reuters AlertNet:

Experts told Reuters it was extremely rare for a plane to lose oxygen, and that emergency systems should have kicked in.

"The pilots should have had their masks on," a retired British pilot who did not wish to be named told Reuters. "Why they didn't put them on is the big mystery."


A spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency, Daniel Holtgen, based in Cologne, Germany, said the cause of the crash was likely to be a combination of factors:

"It is highly unlikely that the loss of cabin pressure alone would cause such an incident. There would have to be other contributing factors."

From News24:

Paris - A pressurisation failure could not on its own have caused the crash of the Cypriot airliner killing 121 people on Sunday near Athens, French aeronautical experts said.

"A failure of pressurisation could not cause an aircraft to crash.

"It is impossible that after a loss of pressurisation the plane could not be recoverable," aircraft accident expert and pilot Francois Grangier told AFP in Paris.


Grangier said the plane would have been at fairly low altitude as it approached Athens airport, and that a loss of pressurisation would not have had any effect on the aircraft's structure, nor would it have made the pilots immediately lose consciousness.

He also said the pilots would also have had their own oxygen supply.

From Telegraph:

Greek television reported remarks by Cyprus transport minister Haris Thrasou that the plane had previously had problems with decompression.

But a spokesman for Helios said at Athens airport: "The plane had had no problems and was serviced just last week."

From The Sun Online:

The pilots of two F-16 fighters scrambled to fly alongside the stricken Boeing 737 said they saw two passengers grappling with the controls.

They also saw one pilot slumped at the controls and no sign of the other.


According to a British source, the pressurisation and air-conditioning systems had both been repaired before the plane took off from Larnaca.


The Greek government says the F-16 pilots flew by the Helios Airways plane a second time and saw two people apparently trying to take control of the Boeing 737. It's not known whether the people were crew members or passengers.

From Cyprus News Agency:

"The pilots got close to the Helios aircraft and realized that the pilots of the civil aircraft would not respond to their calls. The F-16 pilots saw that the co-pilot was on the floor, probably unconscious and the captain was not at his seat in the cockpit. Oxygen masks had dropped down from the places, and they also saw two persons in the cockpit who seemed to be trying to fly the plane," he said.

From New York Times:

"Although there are precedents for both pilots losing consciousness at the controls of the aircraft in the past, for it to happen on a large airliner like a Boeing 737, with all the backup systems they have there, does seem to be really quite extraordinary," said Kieran Daly, editor of Air Transport Intelligence, a news agency that covers the industry.

"It really is all very peculiar," he added. "I rather suspect we're heading for a very complicated investigation."

At the time of this writing, airline experts are at a loss to explain how a Cypriot plane carrying 121 people crashed earlier today. Was the Helios Airways Boeing 737 heading towards Prague hijacked? We will soon see.

Posted by Mike Tate at August 14, 2005 11:20 PM