Confidential Settlement Reached in Product Liability Lawsuit From Fatal Helicopter Crash Involving Petros VII Pope and Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church
On September 11, 2004, His Beatitude, Pope and Patriarch Petros VII, along with 16 others including his brother, clergy, lay members of the Orthodox Church, and the Greek Army crew perished when the helicopter they were aboard went out of control and crashed into the Aegean Sea approximately 15 nautical miles from the shoreline near Mt. Athos, Greece.
The helicopter used for the flight was a CH-47D, commonly known as the “Chinook” which was manufactured in 2001 by The Boeing Company and sold to the Greek Army as part of a U.S. Foreign Military Sales Agreement valued at over 300 million dollars.
The fateful flight departed the Pachi Megaron Army Airfield west of Athens at approximately 9:30 a.m. for a routine flight to the holy monasteries at Mt. Athos on the Chalkidiki peninsula. However, at approximately 10:53 a.m. local time, after the pilot requested clearance to an altitude of 4,500 feet, things began to go tragically wrong. The last six radar points beginning at 10:54 a.m. (see below) indicate that rather than continuing in a north northeast heading toward Mt. Athos, the helicopter began to take a slight left turn. This heading change was then followed by a loss of the transponder signal and a steep left turn and a final high-speed plunge into the ocean.
The recovery process was hampered by the sea’s depth and weather. Nevertheless, investigation into the accident revealed several anomalies with the helicopter which including illuminated caution lights on the maintenance panel without illumination of corresponding lights on the Master Caution Panel, significant damage to the aft rotor droop stops, DC power present in the aft section of the helicopter but absent in the cockpit, damage to gear teeth in the aft rotor drive system, and an over current in the A11 circuit card of the automatic flight control system (AFCS). Additionally, switch positions in the cockpit indicated the pilots were trying to isolate a hydraulic problem.
This was to be the first official trip by Petros VII to the holy monasteries at Mt. Athos. He, a new-calendarist ecumenist, was reportedly traveling to the Monastery of Vatopedi to celebrate that Monday the Feast of the Deposition of the Precious Sash of the Mother of God according to the Old Calendar.
Nolan Law Group’s helicopter accident attorneys represented the estates of Patriarch Petros VII, his brother, Georgios Papapetrou, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Carthage, and Hierodeacon Nektarios Kontogiorgis. The cases were settled during voluntary mediation conducted by Hon. Edward N. Cahn, retired Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Papapetrou v.The Boeing Company, et al., Case No. 07-cv-3768, E.D.Pa.