Helios Airways Flight 522

Helios Airways Flight 522
Artist rendering of Helios Airways Flight 522 being intercepted
Artist rendering of Helios Airways Flight 522 being intercepted

Accident summary
Date 14 August 2005
Type : Human error
Location : Grammatiko, Greece
Passengers : 115
Crew : 6
Fatalities : 121
Survivors : 0
Aircraft involved : Boeing 737-31S
Aircraft name: Olympia
Operator : Helios Airways
Aircraft registration : 5B-DBY
Flight origin : Larnaca Airport
Stopover : Athens Airport
Destination : Prague Airport

Helios Airways Flight 522 (Flight numbers: HCY 522 or ZU522) was a scheduled passenger flight operated by Helios Airways which crashed into a mountain on the 14 August 2005, just nort of Marathon, Greece while enroute from Larnaca Airport to Prague Airport with scheduled stopover at Athens Airport

The accident was caused by lack of oxygen that incapacitated the crew and passengers, although the airplane kept flying on autopilot and performed holding patterns it eventually run run out of fuel and crashed near Grammatiko just 40 km (25 mi) from Athens. All the 121 people on board (115 passengers and 6 crew) were killed in the crash - this being the deadliest aviation disaster in Greece. The aircraft that operated the flight was a Boeing 737-31S. This was the 69th crash of a Boeing 737. It is also the fourth-deadliest crash involving a Boeing 737-300.


The incident aircraft performed its maiden flight on 29 December 1997 and was operated initially by DBA starting with 1998. Later on 16 April 2004 Helios Airways leased the plane registered it as 5B-DBY and gave the name Olympia to the aircraft. At the time of the accident Helios Airways had another three leased planes, two Boeing 737-800s and an Airbus A319.


On the day of the fatal flight the aircraft arrived from London Heathrow Airport LHR EGLL at 01.25 AM in the morning and was scheduled to depart Larnaca Airport, Cyprus at 09.00 AM local time for Prague Airport with a stopover at Athens Airport.


Search and recovery

Passengers and crew


The captain was a 58 years old German contract pilot - Hans Jürgen Merten who had a contract with Helios Airways for the duration of the holiday season. He had 16 900 flight hours accumulated during a 35 year old career which included flying for Interflug before 1990. The first officer - Pampos Charalambous, 51 years old, was a Cypriot pilot who flew for Helios for the last five years. He had accrued 7 549 flight hours during his career. The chief purser was Louisa Vouteri, 32 years old, a Greek national living in Cyprus. She was replacing a sick colleague.





Helios Airways flight 522 was featured on the documentary series Air Crash Investigation (or Mayday in some markets) in the episode called Ghost Plane

The crash site today

The wreckage of the aircraft was removed from the site and a large cross and a church have been built in the memory of the victims of Helios Airways Flight 522. These are accessible by car and are clearly signposted.

Further reading

List of aviation accidents by year
Airlines in Greece
Fuel exhaustion

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