Akrivos Tsolakis, who led the committee for investigation into the fatal Helios Airways plane crash passed away on Monday, at the age of 93.
The fatal crash of Helios Airways Flight 522, on August 14, 2005, claimed the lives of 121 passengers and crew.
The Helios Airways flight was a scheduled passenger flight from Larnaca to Prague, with a stopover in Athens. The plane crashed in the mountainous area of Grammatikos, killing all on board.
In statements to the Cyprus News Agency in the summer of 2022 on the occasion of the anniversary of the crash, Tsolakis, erstwhile President of the Hellenic Air Accidents Investigation Committee, said it had left a permanent mark on him psychologically.
He described the fatal event as a “punch in the stomach” and the most tragic thing he had experienced in his life.
Tsolakis was born in Thessaloniki in 1930. He graduated from the Icaron flight school in 1950 and served in the Greek Air Force.
He worked as aircraft captain at Olympic Aviation where he assumed the role of Director of Flight Security from where he retired in 1990.
Later on Tuesday, former Transport Minister Haris Thrasos acknowledged Tsolakis’ “significant contributions in advocating for changes in aviation safety”.
Thrasos served as minister from 2004 to 2007. Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Thrasos extended his condolences to Tsolakis’ family, especially his wife Vasiliki.
“Besides being an accomplished technocrat with numerous accolades from various foreign countries, he was, above all, a human being,” he said.
“Throughout the entire accident investigation process, he approached the matter purely from a humanitarian perspective.”
Thrasos expressed his full endorsement of Tsolakis’ report, underlining that it was the result of comprehensive work, not only by Tsolakis himself but also by his colleagues, both in Greece and Cyprus.
He added that many of his suggestions had been adopted and implemented, including new techniques in various aircraft, particularly those of the same type as the Helios aircraft that crashed.
“After every accident, investigative committees strive to draw useful conclusions to have practical applications in aviation safety,” Thrasos concluded.