Friend of flydubai pilot says he was calm under pressure
A close friend of flydubai captain Aristos Sokratous has described the Cypriot aviator as a “calm professional” who he says would not have panicked in a crisis.
Andreas Christodolou, 43, said that all those in the pilot’s home town of Limassol have been devastated by Saturday’s crash, which claimed the lives of all onboard, including 55 passengers and seven crew.
He also said that friends and relatives do not believe Sokratous could have caused the tragedy.
Russian investigators say they are probing whether either human error, the weather or a fault in the aircraft could have led to the accident.
Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith has said it would have been the pilots’ decision to land, but urged against any speculation as to the cause before the investigation is complete.
Speaking by phone from Cyprus, Christodolou told 7DAYS that his family had been saddened by the suggestion that pilot error could be a factor.
“Everyone who knows him says he is a very calm, professional guy, the way he used to speak to people, the way he was at work,” Christodolou said, adding that he had known Sokratous since they were young men and had travelled Europe on their motorbikes.
“He was good at everything he did.
By Rory Reynolds
“I don’t believe it could have been the pilots’ fault - no one does here.
“I’ve heard the recording of the pilots speaking to the tower [published by Russian media outlets]. He doesn’t panic at all, neither of the pilots do.
“He knew that it was their job to land that plane, but we don’t know what happened after that. Something happened, I don’t know what, but we just can’t think it could have been his fault.”
He continued: “Aristos had flown all over the world, he worked for different airlines, he was experienced.”
Christodolou, who runs a bar in his home town, also said his friend had spoken of his excitement at bringing his wife and young child back to Cyprus from Dubai to fly for Irish carrier Ryanair.
He said: “He had a new job and we had talked about him moving back, how we were going to head to the gym together and get fit.”
Christodolou said his friend’s parents travelled to Dubai to support his wife and child, as the investigation continues.
He added: “All of our friends gathered together last night and people are very upset, the whole town, all of Cyprus is saddened.”