Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 15:32 UK

Wing flap 'problem' on Spain jet

The wreckage of the Spanair plane
The plane crashed to earth almost immediately after take-off

The wing flaps on a plane that crashed in Madrid last month were not deployed properly at take-off, a draft preliminary report has concluded.

Investigators found that the pilots were unaware of the problem because a cockpit warning alarm did not go off, leading Spanish newspapers reported.

The Spanair plane plunged to the ground shortly after take-off, killing 154 people on board.

It was the deadliest air crash in Spain in 25 years.

Investigations into the crash are continuing, with no firm conclusions yet made about whether the disaster was the result of technical fault or human error.

Cockpit recordings

The MD-82 jet, which was preparing to fly to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, had aborted a previous take-off attempt before it crashed.

In my experience an accident doesn't happen for a single reason
Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba
Spanish Interior Minister

The draft report of the investigating committee, leaked to Spanish newspapers, details how the aircraft crashed when it attempted to take off following a brief stop for technicians to correct a fault in a temperature gauge.

The pilots had detected the high temperature as they readied the plane for take-off, having already deployed the wing flaps, the plane's black box recorder showed. They aborted the take-off to get the temperature gauge looked at by technicians, the draft report says.

By the time the plane resumed its position on the runway, the flaps - which make it easier for aircraft to get off the ground at take-off speeds - had been retracted, data from the black box is said to show.

The MD-82 plane is equipped with sensors intended to warn pilots whether flaps are correctly deployed before take-off.

However, the draft report suggests no warning signal sounded in the cockpit before the pilots accelerated the plane down the runway for the ill-fated take-off attempt.

Deadly precedent

The draft report said Spanair did not rigorously follow advice from the plane's manufacturers to check the flap deployment warning signal.

Following an MD-82 crash in the US city of Detroit in 1987, which killed 154 people, McDonnell-Douglas (now part of Boeing) advised that flap and slats indicator systems be checked before each flight.

However, Spanair only carried out checks on the system before the first flight of each day or when the pilot and co-pilot was changed, the draft report said.

The pair in control of the plane had already taken it from Barcelona to Madrid on the morning of the accident without incident, and were not under orders to check the systems before beginning their next flight, the draft report said.

Investigators have not released any official statement on the disaster, and Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told Spanish TV the government would not comment until the investigation had been completed.

"In my experience an accident doesn't happen for a single reason," he said.

"We are going to wait for the report to be finished to find out what happened because there are many theories," Mr Rubalcaba added.

Madrid crash victims' memorial
11 Sep 08 |  Europe
Probe into Madrid crash causes
22 Aug 08 |  Europe
In pictures: Madrid's plane crash
21 Aug 08 |  In Pictures

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific