As Helios Crash Investigation Continues

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Meanwhile, the report into last year's crash of a passenger jet in Cyprus is nearing completion. The Helios Airways 737-300 ran into a mountainside after running out of fuel, after the cabin's loss of pressure led to the incapacitation of the cockpit crew. It has been reported that a flight attendant with minimal experience as a pilot was only able to gain entry to the cockpit after the aircraft lost power from fuel exhaustion. All 121 on board died. The investigation so far has found that "latent errors have lain there for years waiting for the pilot to pull the trigger," according to Akrivos Tsolakis, head of the investigation. The systemic faults created "a window of opportunity" for the errors made by the pilots, he said. Tsolakis spoke last week at an aviation safety seminar in Athens, Flight International reported. The final report on the crash is expected to be released in June or July. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini obtained a leaked draft version, and in a story published Sunday, said a long chain of mistakes led to the crash. The 737 failed to pressurize after a maintenance crew left a critical control set to manual instead of automatic. The pilots failed to correct the error during cockpit checks and then when an alert sounded, they misinterpreted its meaning. Blame likely will be attributed to state and airline authorities for a lack of oversight and to Helios Airways company officials and ground crew, the newspaper said.