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GDB
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Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:23 am

15 years after the tragic crash of Helios 522, an account of how one ground engineer became embroiled in the aftermath;

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... p-a-switch
 
peterjohns
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:57 pm

Thanks for the interesting read. Luckily I got through my working life as an ATC without having to deal with courts. Not everyone is that lucky.
I remember our legal person at our firm saying, for aviation related court cases: - I don´t recall one case of someone being charged of having done something wrong, a working mistake.
I only know of cases where people are have bin accused of NOT having done something. That would be not following SOP´s for instance.
The lawers have all the time in the world to find that sentance claiming that you have to switch back the selector to "Auto" after a press. check.
Then they have you for negliance. I know a few cases where similar things happened (not with that outcome of course) and someone gets charged for something he should or could have done- and didn´t- although not related to the actual accident itself.
 
wingman
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:20 pm

The was a very interesting read, thanks for posting it. I wonder, when they write "..he was recorded as telling the crew to return the switch to Auto..", do they mean actually recorded by the CVR on ground preparing flight or recorded in documentation related to the investigation? I assume it has to be the latter or else he never would've been put through this saga. All these various warnings, it seems they should each have a sound and a verbal competent to them. If you're going to yell out "terrain, terrain" you might as well also yell out "pressure/oxygen, pressure/oxygen" when you need the crew's undivided attention.
 
PSAatSAN4Ever
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:37 pm

I am impressed with the article itself, being factual and carefully pointing out who made what mistakes, and so on. I am less impressed with the title, as it doesn't fit with the article written.

In the article itself, it even mentions that crashes today are a series of events. Tenerife in 1977 and Air Florida in 1982 showed us how incredibly random things can be, and how we can take nothing for granted.

But rather than debate issues with the article, I pose this question for pilots: are there any switches or gauges that you DON'T check before getting a plane ready to fly? In essence, do you ever "assume" that all the switches, such as aircraft pressurization, are in the correct position? And have you ever caught something that had been left in an incorrect position?
 
arcticcruiser
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:55 pm

PSAatSAN4Ever wrote:
And have you ever caught something that had been left in an incorrect position?


Yes. Usually by maintenance. Some maintenance outfits (one by a US major was the worst) have a tendency to fiddle with things.
I did post maintenance test flights for a while. Required careful pre flight check.
 
bennett123
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:27 pm

'On 15 February 2001, a Boeing 737 on a flight from Kristiansund to Oslo in Norway was climbing above 10,000ft when the captain and first officer were surprised to hear the warning horn. Neither associated it with a pressurisation problem. Knowing that takeoff configuration couldn’t be the cause, they assumed that the problem was the horn itself and switched it off, only realising their mistake when the oxygen masks dropped in the cabin'.

In which case should the masks have dropped in the cabin on flight 522.

The article also doesn't say how widely it was known that the same horn could mean two different things.
 
32andBelow
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:27 pm

bennett123 wrote:
'On 15 February 2001, a Boeing 737 on a flight from Kristiansund to Oslo in Norway was climbing above 10,000ft when the captain and first officer were surprised to hear the warning horn. Neither associated it with a pressurisation problem. Knowing that takeoff configuration couldn’t be the cause, they assumed that the problem was the horn itself and switched it off, only realising their mistake when the oxygen masks dropped in the cabin'.

In which case should the masks have dropped in the cabin on flight 522.

The article also doesn't say how widely it was known that the same horn could mean two different things.

The article says the intercepting aircraft saw masks deployed in the cabin
 
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ClassicLover
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:32 pm

GDB wrote:
15 years after the tragic crash of Helios 522, an account of how one ground engineer became embroiled in the aftermath;

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... p-a-switch


That is an excellent article. It is so unfortunate that they concluded that it was he who didn't switch the switch back originally. It seems like such a stretch to try to pin it on him. It's also terrible to see how that affected his life. He seems like a decent guy.

Thanks for sharing that, a great read!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
BlueberryWheats
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:38 pm

Even if, heaven forbid, a ground tech left the pressurisation switch on manual, does one of the flight crew checklists not state to check the position?
The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut.
 
bennett123
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:59 pm

So what was the crew reaction when masks deployed.

Are the masks in the cabin on the same system as those in the cockpit.

Even I have listened to enough Safety Briefs to link that with de pressurisation.
 
32andBelow
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:25 pm

bennett123 wrote:
So what was the crew reaction when masks deployed.

Are the masks in the cabin on the same system as those in the cockpit.

Even I have listened to enough Safety Briefs to link that with de pressurisation.

The masks in the cockpit are normal masks that you can fly in that have this own air supply
 
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Aesma
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:39 pm

More importantly they don't deploy. The pilots never realized they were not getting enough oxygen, which is why the aircraft crashed.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
 
m1m2
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:55 pm

The masks in the cockpit are "quick donning" so the pilots can pick them up and put them on at any time for any reason, not just de pressurization. Smoke or other toxic vapors in the cockpit would also require them to put the masks on. The cockpit masks do not drop from anywhere, and they would not have a "physical" visual indication that the masks in the back have deployed. However, I do believe they would get a caution message that the masks in the cabin have deployed, somebody familiar with the 737 can clarify that.
 
Airbii
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:02 pm

I don't see the mechanic being the primary fault. Bottom line sadly is the crew missed it no less than THREE separate times.

First time, part of the preflight cockpit flow. We ensure the switch is in AUTO, and the green ALTN and MANUAL lights are extinguished. They missed this.

Second time, part of checklists at gate (eg, Before Start). "Pressurization" challenge/response format where the other pilot calls out something like, "AUTO - Set for xxxx"

Third time, after takeoff checklist. There is a provision on this checklist to check/set the pressurization and bleeds.

Most airlines also have a SOP that requires a check of pressurization through 10,000 ft (or) 18,000 ft. As a personal technique, once the after takeoff checklist is complete and squared away, I always check the pressurization values: namely, cabin altitude and what the cabin climb rate is. Doing ANY of these could have found their mistake.


Boeing did make the cabin altitude warning sound the same as the takeoff configuration warning. That confused the crew, because they kept referring to the takeoff configuration horn and why were they getting that in the air? Granted, that's a fair point. On the other hand, even if you couldn't put 2 and 2 together, you would think the crew would at least have considered if anything was wrong with any of their configuration? Yes, gear is up, flaps are up, trims are all fine and set. But what else could it be? What are we not configured for? One nice glance at the overhead panel would have shown the green "MANUAL" light on in the pressurization panel. Quick switch back to AUTO would have fixed their problem.

The way I look at it, this crew failed numerous times. The accident falls on them. Simply adhering to SOPs, checklists and procedures would have trapped their mistake long before it became a fatal error.
 
m1m2
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:17 am

I agree Airbii. I'm an AME and I've read many pilot checklists. They all mention pressurization and it's never very far down the list. Having said this, I always make sure the pressurization is set to "auto" before leaving the cockpit after I finish any engine run, if I was pressurizing or not. I think of this crash every time I touch the pressurization control, at the end of the day it's not about blame for me, it's about the people who will be on that plane the next time it takes off. But...We are all human and we all make mistakes, and I hope if I ever miss this selection, it gets caught by the pilots.
 
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RyanairGuru
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:45 am

Ultimately the pilots were the last line of defence, and that failed. In addition to not picking it up on their checklists, during the flight the mechanic specifically asked if the pressurisation switch was set to auto but this question was disregarded by the captain. While not made explicit by the investigators, which is a peculiar oversight, there was a failure of CRM on the flight deck that was attributed to the captain's "East German authoritative style"
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
F9Animal
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:49 am

Wow, what a good written article. IMO the only blame that I can see here is the crew failing to identify the problem here. Isn't the pressurization part of a normal cockpit checklist?

I remember being at an airshow once, and watched this kid inside the cockpit of a helicopter pushing buttons and switching switches. I of course whispered to the pilot and asked if he double checks everything before flying, and he said he would triple check.

Anyways, what a horrible tragedy. That poor man has been through so much. Of course I can't blame the families for wanting to blame things, but I personally believe the ultimate responsibility belonged to the 2 pilots sitting in the cockpit.
I Am A Different Animal!!
 
GDB
Topic Author
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:43 am

Thanks for the interesting replies, my own impression is that the mechanic went through all of this is, at heart because the Greek government wanted a scalp.
 
Max Q
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Re: Helios 522 And The Blame Game

Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:58 am

Tragic, no question this crew played a part but an audio warning system that’s identical for cabin altitude and takeoff configuration is a poor design and was an accident waiting to happen
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg

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