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Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 11:46 UK

Spanair mechanics face crash quiz

Wreckage of the Spanair MD82, 21 August 2008 [Pic: EFE]
A preliminary report focused on the plane's wing flaps and warning system

The judge investigating the Madrid plane crash that killed 154 people in August is to question three mechanics on suspicion of manslaughter.

The two mechanics who checked the plane before take-off and Spanair's head of maintenance at Barajas will appear before the judge, court officials said.

The Spanish passenger jet crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off at Madrid's Barajas airport.

An investigation said the plane's wing flaps had been set incorrectly.

Human error

Investigators say the two mechanics had deactivated a faulty temperature gauge, but failed to spot a problem with the aircraft's take-off warning system, which was operating on the same electronic relay.

Less than half an hour later, Spanair flight 5022 crashed after take-off, killing all but 18 passengers on board.

Investigators say the wing flaps - which should have provided lift - had not been deployed, and that the warning system failed to sound in the cockpit.

The suspicion, set out in court documents, is that the mechanics failed to pick up on a broader electrical fault, which would prove fatal, says the BBC's Steven Kingstone in Madrid.

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Mobile phone video of the immediate aftermath of the crash

The three men have formally been cited for the manslaughter of 154 people and for the injuries suffered by 18 survivors.

They are expected to give evidence in court next month.

Separately, the judge has set up a second investigation committee - consisting of pilots, flight engineers and mechanics - to run in parallel with an ongoing government-led inquiry.

The loss-making Spanish airline is owned by Scandinavia's SAS.

Earlier this month, it announced it would shed more than 1,000 jobs and cut capacity by 25%.

Spanair lost 515 million Swedish crowns ($71.72m; 39.69m) in the first half of 2008.


SEE ALSO
Wing flaps caused Madrid crash
10 Oct 08 |  Europe
Jet passed 'point of no return'
21 Aug 08 |  Europe
Many dead in Madrid plane crash
20 Aug 08 |  Europe

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