U.S. aviation experts say they can't understand the behavior of the flight crew aboard a Cypriot airliner that crashed north of Athens after flying on autopilot for what could have been hours.
Early reports indicated the Helios Airways jet lost cabin pressure. Temperatures and oxygen levels would have plummeted and left everyone aboard unconscious and freezing to death as the plane flew on autopilot long before it crashed, experts said Monday.
But if there had been a sudden decompression, experts say, the pilots and the flight attendants for some reason didn't react the way they were trained to.
"It's odd," said Terry McVenes, executive air safety chairman for the
Air Line Pilots Association, International. "It's a very rare event to even have a pressurization problem and in general crews are very well trained to deal with it."
The plane was fairly new, a Boeing 737-300 delivered in January 1998, according to company spokesman Jim Proulx. The flight data recorder that came with the aircraft records 128 kinds of data about the plane, he said.
Investigators were sending the plane's data and cockpit voice recorders to France for expert examinations.