A licensed aircraft maintenance engineer has received a 10-year prison sentence from an Athens, Greece, court for allegedly not resetting a cockpit switch following maintenance on a Helios Airways Boeing 737-300. The aircraft subsequently collided with a mountain near Athens in 2005 after the airplane’s oxygen supply failed and the pilots and most of the passengers fell unconscious.
“The laws in Europe, and most of the world, hold both the government as well as individual citizens responsible for aviation safety,” Sarah MacLeod, executive director of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, told AIN. “In the U.S. the government is generally protected from blame under the Federal Tort Claims Act. We have protected the NTSB proceedings from being used in civil or criminal cases, yet SabreTech mechanics faced criminal charges for the ValuJet accident and others have faced criminal sanctions for falsification of records and other deliberate acts. We don’t live in a perfect world and liability is a burden we must carry,” she said.