OTD 14th August 2005 - Helios Airways Flight 522 crashes 121 killed

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A Cypriot airplane belonging to Helios Airways plowed into a hill north of Athens on 14 August 2005 , killing all 121 people onboard in the worst airline disaster in Greek history.

Human error was the root of this terrifying 2005 ghost flight that crashed outside of Athens and killed all 121 people onboard.

The problem with this 737 began when ground crew set the plane’s pressurization system to manual to check a reported leak.

The system was never switched back to auto. Investigations after the crash showed that the flight crew had several opportunities to notice and correct the setting, but they never did. Instead, pressure started dropping 13 minutes into the Cyprus-to-Prague flight.

Alarms sounded onboard but the pilots, beginning to feel the effects of hypoxia, misinterpreted them. Even after oxygen masks dropped to passengers, the plane continued its climb.

Unresponsive to radio communication, the jet flew into Greek airspace, where two F-16s intercepted it. The pilots saw a grim scene. The 737’s pilots were slumped over their controls and passengers were wearing oxygen masks.

A moment of hope emerged when a flight attendant, still conscious after using several crew oxygen containers, made his way into the cockpit and took the plane’s controls. But he was too late.

The plane was out of gas and it crashed into a mountain outside of Athens. Investigations said the passengers were alive but unconscious at the time of the crash, though some Greek officials believe many passengers froze to death during the flight.

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