Following Fatal Helicopter Crash, Purge Seen of Greek Utility

August 26, 2019

ATHENS – After ignoring repeated warnings that power lines were too close to a landing area for helicopters on the Saronic Gulf island of Poros, the electricity network that owned them could see its board fired after a fatal crash into the wires.

The new New Democracy asked for all the members of the board of the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDHE), said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, after the crash that killed the pilot and two Russian passengers.

First reports said that the helicopter caught tangled in the power lines while attempting to land at a helipad at the Galata resort town in southern Greece before crashing into the sea just off the harbor on Aug. 20.

The grid operator had reportedly been warned over the danger posed by the power lines, with aviators requesting that the lines be moved or be better marked, the paper said, all going unheeded until it was too late.

An announcement from of Energy and Environment Ministry said Deputy Minister Gerassimos Thomas requested an official briefing by DEDDHE CEO Stefanos Oktapodas over the incident, before then requesting the resignations of the entire board of directors.

Thomas added whatever information comes out of investigating the accident will be given to a prosecutor although it wasn’t said if that could lead to charges against any board members for failing to remove the dangerous lines or mark them better.

A NOTAM issued by the Civil Aviation Authority banned helicopter flights, including landings and take-offs, in the Galata region while an investigation into the recent fatal helicopter crash between Galatas and Poros is underway.

The NOTAM bans flights in the region for three months, except for those by state services (ambulance, armed forces etc), as the search to discover the precise cause of the accident is underway. If the investigation is not completed in that time, a new NOTAM will be issued.

The air traffic accidents investigation committee’s report is expected to shed light on the causes of the helicopter crash with the results of the investigation sent for evaluation to the Civil Protection Agency.

The probe’s in the early stages but initially blamed cited engine failure as the initial cause, which led to the helicopter’s hitting the Public Power Corporation’s (PPC) electricity lines, before an explosion sent the helicopter into the sea.

The committee confirmed the existence of a letter to the local authorities and to the electricity network operator (DEDDIE) asking for the placement of special signs on the PPC lines in order to make them visible to pilots and underlining the risk of a crash.

It was a privately owned aircraft by iFly, based in Pachi near the Megara area which was leased by the Russian passengers. The crash also cut off power to the island for hours.


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