Findings Dispute Initial Reports Of Engine Fire
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 08.26.08 1800
EDT: The head of the Spanish commission tasked with
investigating last week's takeoff crash of a Spanair MD-82
described Tuesday the sequence of events leading up to the accident
near Madrid's Barajas International Airport.
His comments describe an aircraft struggling to fly behind the
"The marks on the ground tell us that the plane hit the ground
tail first and as a result the tail cone, the end part of the
plane, broke off," said Francisco Soto, secretary of Spain's Civil
Aviation Commission for Investigating Civil Aviation Accidents and
Beatriz Reyes Ojeda is one of 18 people to have survived the
accident... escaping with only a gash on her left leg. She told
reporters Tuesday she, too, thought the plane was moving too slowly
down the runway.
"I guess I did realize that when the plane was going to take
off, perhaps it was not going so fast," said Reyes Ojeda upon her
release from the hospital.
The airliner veered sharply on takeoff, its right wing dipping
abruptly. "And I said to myself, something is going on here," Reyes
Ojeda said. "I grabbed the seat. I noticed a bump. My stomach was
rising and falling."
After the initial impact -- possibly indicative of the nose-high
attitude seen in a departure stall -- the airliner then skidded,
and bounced along the ground for nearly a mile.
the aftermath of last week's devastating takeoff crash in Madrid,
investigators immediately focused on witness reports of a fire
coming from the left engine nacelle of the Spanair MD-82... but it
now appears those reports may have been inaccurate.
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials are taking a
closer look at the flap settings at the time of takeoff, after
determining both turbofans were making power as the jet sped down
the runway at Madrid Barajas International Airport on August
People close to the investigation told the WSJ that based on
components recovered in the wreckage, along with airport video
footage that shows the plane taking off, there's little evidence to
support earlier claims the airliner's engine was aflame before the
aircraft departed the runway at MAD.
As ANN reported, 153 people were killed in the
accident, out of 172 people onboard.
Authorities warn it's still too early to lay blame on any one
factor. Data from the airliner's cockpit voice and flight data
recorders is still being analyzed, and investigators' jobs are made
more difficult by the severe fire damage to the wreckage.
Given what's known of the accident situation, however -- a
heavily-laden jet that failed to climb out of ground effect, on
what should have been a routine takeoff from a 10,000-foot runway
-- investigators say if there wasn't a power problem, one of
the few remaining possibilities is an issue with the configuration
of the plane's flaps and wing slats.
They add it's possible the plane's flight crew was distracted
during their preflight, and neglected to set takeoff flaps... or,
they may have received a faulty indication in the cockpit.
Another possibility -- and one supported by reports the plane
swerved off the runway -- is that the flaps deployed
asymmetrically, resulting in each wing producing different levels
of lift. Improper flap settings would have also been especially
problematic if, in fact, the airliner did suffer an engine problem
Again, investigators stress it's too soon to say for certain if
there was a flap problem on Spanair Flight 5022. In fact, at this
stage they are fairly certain of only one thing.
An earlier defect with one of the plane's outside temperature
that led the flight crew to abort their first takeoff
attempt and return to the gate for repairs, doesn't
appear to have been a direct factor in the subsequent crash.