Pilot of Greek Falcon in fatal upset appeals his case

 - March 29, 2007, 11:45 AM

The pilot of the Greek government Falcon 900 that suffered an in-flight fatal upset (AIN, July 2002, page 59) is appealing his guilty conviction before the Athens Appeals Court. Pilot Yiannos Androulakis was sentenced by a lower court to a five-year prison sentence on the grounds that he was responsible for the sudden oscillations in the Sept. 14, 1999 accident, which killed seven passengers and injured two. Among those killed was the Greek deputy minister of foreign affairs Giannos Kranidiotis.

Led by John Stamoulis, the pilot’s defense attorneys pointed out that the appeal will challenge the assumptions about the mishap, which, according to the first court decision, led to the aircraft’s wild oscillations and subsequent deaths. The legal defense will try to prove that the Dassault-built aircraft itself was dangerous.

Additionally, they will use flight-data recorder data to show that the pilot tried to regain control of the aircraft at the onset of the oscillations. The defense asserts that the pilot had no way of predicting the aircraft’s erratic behavior with the autopilot engaged and did the best he could to control the aircraft in the first few seconds when the deaths occurred.

The pilot’s defense team also blames Honeywell for the loss of the two flight-guidance computer recordings, which would have given a more detailed description of the accident.

This defense strategy is similar to that of two related lawsuits. Olympic Airways (the operator of the Falcon involved in the fatal accident) is using essentially the same allegation as the pilot’s lawyers in its lawsuit against Dassault and Honeywell.

Additionally, one victim’s family has filed a lawsuit also accusing the two aerospace companies of “manufacturing and design defects,” as well as Olympic Airways for “failure to take corrective measures” and for using “untrustworthy manuals on flight-safety procedures.”