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Last updated: 24 October 2021
Date:Tuesday 14 September 1999
Type:Silhouette image of generic F900 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Dassault Falcon 900B
Operating for:Olympic Airways
Leased from:Elleniki Polemikí Aeroporía
Registration: SX-ECH
MSN: 026
First flight: 1987
Total airframe hrs:6427
Engines: 3 Garrett TFE731-5BR-1C
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 10
Total:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 13
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:FIR Bucharest (   Romania)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Official state flight
Departure airport:Athens-Ellinikon International Airport (ATH/LGAT), Greece
Destination airport:Bucharest-Otopeni International Airport (OTP/LROP), Romania
Falcon 900B SX-ECH was owned by the Greek Air Force and operated by Olympic Airways. A Greek government delegation, a.o. minister in charge of European affairs, Yiannos Kranidiotis, were to visit Bucharest. Their plane departed Athens 18:16 UTC. During climb, after the flaps and slats were retracted, the flight crew noticed, on the warning panel, the "PITCH FEEL" light, was illuminated. The captain disengaged the autopilot, checked the forces on the control column and re-engaged the autopilot. The "PITCH FEEL" warning light, remained continuously ON, during cruise and descent until the slats were extended. The Falcon reached a cruising altitude of FL400 until 47 minutes from takeoff, when a normal descent to FL150 was initiated, with the autopilot engaged in vertical speed (V/S) mode. During descent the Indicated Air Speed (IAS) increased from 240 knots to 332 knots. Approaching FL150, the first officer had a request for a further descent. Just before FL150 the ATC recleared the flight to continue descent to FL50. One second later autopilot disengaged and thereafter the aircraft was manually flown by the captain. Between FL150 and FL140, for approximately 24 seconds, the aircraft experienced 10 oscillations in pitch axis which exceeded the limit manoeuvring load factor. Maximum recorded values were: +4.7 g and -3.26 g. During the event the thrust power was reduced. At about FL130, after aircraft recovery from the encountered oscillations, the first officer declared an emergency, saying: "We are in emergency sir, request vector to final approach. We have problems with the controls". At the request of the flight crew, radar vectoring was provided by the ATC, and a visual approach and landing was performed on runway 08R. It appeared that the cabin interior had been completely destroyed, resulting in fatal injuries to seven passengers.

Probable Cause:

1. Inadequate risk assessments of the PITCH FEEL malfunctions.
2. Overriding of the A/P on the pitch channel by the crew.
3. Inappropriate inputs on the control column at high speed and with Arthur unit failed in 'low-speed' mode leading to Pilot Induced Oscillations.
4. Seat-belts not fastened during descent flight phase.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: Romania MoT
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 11 months
Accident number: Report sx-h990914
Download report: Final report

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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Athens-Ellinikon International Airport to Bucharest-Otopeni International Airport as the crow flies is 762 km (476 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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