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At Least 45 Are Dead in Madrid Plane Crash


By CAROLINE BROTHERS
Published: August 20, 2008
PARIS "” At least 45 people died Wednesday and 44 others were injured when an airliner en route to the Canary Islands of Spain swerved off the end of a runway at Madrid's airport, Spanish officials said.

A jet crashed on takeoff at Madrid airport.
"There were 178 passengers on board, including the crew," said Valentin Narro, a government official at the Interior Ministry's office for Madrid. "There are 45 dead and 44 injured."

A Red Cross official at the airport said the aircraft, Spanair Flight JK5022, swerved off the runway during takeoff. Spanair said the accident happened at 2:45 p.m.

Mr. Narro could not confirm whether the aircraft had caught fire. Television footage of the accident showed clouds of white smoke billowing over the runway at Madrid Barajas International Airport.

Olivia Acosta, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross at Barajas airport, said 22 ambulances were at the scene and that a makeshift hospital had been set up.

"There are teams of psychosocial workers to help the victims," she said.

Spanair is a troubled low-cost carrier owned by S.A.S., Scandinavian Airlines System. S.A.S. confirmed that an accident had taken place at the Madrid airport involving Spanair Flight JK5022 from Madrid to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The plane model was a Boeing MD-82, a type of MD-80.

The MD-80 is a long, narrow plane with engines mounted to the rear of the fuselage and the tail high in the air.

In April, the Federal Aviation Administration inspected American Airline MD-80s and found a maintenance problem: wiring bundles that had been improperly wrapped and attached inside wheel wells. The airline canceled 3,300 flights.

The wiring is required to be stowed in a way to avoid chafing by moving parts in the wheel well, which otherwise could result in an electric short.

Spanair, founded in 1986, has hubs in Madrid and Barcelona and flies within Spain and the rest of Europe, as well as West Africa.

The airline, which carried 11.2 million passengers last year, is part of the Star Alliance, which also includes United Airlines, Air Canada, S.A.S. and Lufthansa of Germany.

S.A.S. tried to sell the money-losing airline last year, only to drop the effort in June after it could not find a buyer. Spain's largest airline, Iberia, pulled out of discussions, and later initiated separate merger talks with British Airways.

On Wednesday, before word of the crash, Spanair pilots had threatened to go on strike, saying management did not have a plan to fix the carrier's problems.

Spanair lost $81 million in the first half of the year, and S.A.S. has said that it plans to cut a quarter of Spanair's flights and eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or about a third of its employees.

A majority of Spanair's fleet is from the MD-80 family, although it also includes Boeing and Airbus jets.

S.A.S. said that it was doing "everything possible to help passengers and next of kin and to assist Spanish authorities at this difficult time."

Spanair said that the flight was a code-share flight with Lufthansa LH 2554, and that it had set up an emergency number for relatives of passengers.

The plane had been headed to Gran Canaria, in Spain's Canary Islands, which are a popular vacation destination off the West African coast.

Micheline Maynard contributed reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/21/world/europe/21madrid.html?em

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PARIS "” Nearly 150 people were killed Wednesday when an airliner en route to the Canary Islands swerved off the end of a runway at Madrid's airport during takeoff, Spanish officials said.



The aircraft, Spanair Flight JK5022, was cross-listed as Lufthansa LH 2554. The plane had been headed to Gran Canaria, in Spain's Canary Islands, a popular vacation destination off the West African coast.

Television footage of the accident, which occurred at 2:45 p.m., showed clouds of white smoke billowing over the runway at Madrid Barajas International Airport. The airport. the fourth busiest in Europe, ranks just behind Frankfurt in terms of passenger traffic.

--Olivia Acosta, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross at Barajas airport, said 22 ambulances were at the scene and that a makeshift hospital had been set up. Teams of therapists were on hand, she said.

Spanair is a troubled low-cost carrier owned by S.A.S., Scandinavian Airlines System.

The plane model was a Boeing MD-82, a type of MD-80. It is a long, narrow plane with engines mounted to the rear of the fuselage and the tail high in the air.

A majority of Spanair's fleet is from the MD-80 family, although it also includes Boeing and Airbus jets.

S.A.S. said that it was doing "everything possible to help passengers and next of kin and to assist Spanish authorities at this difficult time."

Founded in 1986, Spanair has hubs in Madrid and Barcelona and flies within Spain and the rest of Europe, as well as West Africa.

It lost $81 million in the first half of the year, and S.A.S. has said that it plans to cut a quarter of Spanair's flights and eliminate about 1,000 jobs, or about a third of its employees.

On Wednesday, before word of the crash, Spanair pilots had threatened to go on strike, saying management did not have a plan to fix the carrier's problems.

S.A.S. tried to sell the money-losing airline last year, only to drop the effort in June after it could not find a buyer. Spain's largest airline, Iberia, pulled out of discussions, and later initiated separate merger talks with British Airways.

The airline, which carried 11.2 million passengers last year, is part of the Star Alliance, which also includes United Airlines, Air Canada, S.A.S. and Lufthansa of Germany.

Micheline Maynard contributed reporting from Detroit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/21/world/europe/21madrid.html?em
 
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Passengers said they saw flames and then heard an explosion moments before a Spanair jet crashed on takeoff Wednesday at Madrid's Barajas Airport, killing 153 people, according to local media.

The Spanair Flight JK5022 was carrying 172 people. There were 19 survivors, including two infants, Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez said.

The 19 were being treated at a hospital, Alvaraez said.

The severity of the injuries varies, but many of the injured have been treated for burns, Spanish Red Cross spokeswoman Olivia Acosa said.

The flight was bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, two hours away.

Local officials said one of the engines caught fire. The aircraft, an MD-82, has two jet engines, both at the rear.

The burning plane came to rest in a gully about 2:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. ET).

The crash sent up a plume of smoke visible from several kilometers away. At the time of the crash, weather conditions were hot and clear.

A survivor told Spain's ABC newspaper that she and other passengers heard an explosion as the plane was taking off.


"She said they could see the fire, ... and then it was not even a minute or so they heard [something] blow up," reporter Carlota Fomina told CNN. "They were about 200 meters [660 feet] in the air, and then they were landing but not crashing. They were landing, like, little by little; it was not like they [fell] down suddenly."

The MD-82 was carrying 162 passengers, four non-working crew members and six working crew members, Spanair said. After contacting families, the airline published the names of those aboard on its Web site.

Some of the survivors have serious injuries, while others have non-life-threatening injuries. Many of the injured were treated for burns, she said.

The aircraft was carrying seven passengers from Lufthansa Flight 2554, according to the airline. Spanair, a low-cost airline that has a flight-sharing agreement with Lufthansa, is owned by SAS Scandinavian Airlines.

Barajas Airport closed after the crash but reopened more than two hours later, allowing a limited number of takeoffs and landings, an airport official said.


Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero arrived at the airport Wednesday evening after cutting short a vacation.

"The government will do all it can to support the families in this difficult situation," he said. "The whole government, logically, is affected, very affected, as are all Spanish citizens, by this tragedy."

The fatal crash was the first at the airport since December 1983, when 93 people were killed as two Spanish airliners collided.

The airport, eight miles (13 km) northeast of central Madrid, is Spain's busiest, handling more than 40 million passengers a year.

The United States National Transportation Safety Board is sending an investigation team to Madrid because the aircraft is American-made, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Spanair has set up a local emergency number for family members and friends phoning from Spain: +34 800-400-200.



CNN's Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman, Brian Todd and Kathleen Koch contributed to this report


http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/20/plane.crash.....html?eref=rss_world
 
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Spanish plane that crashed had overheated valve
Updated 18m ago

By Victor R. Caivano, AP



MADRID (AP) "” The plane that crashed in Madrid reported an air intake valve overheating before a first attempt at takeoff but it was not immediately clear whether that was a factor in the accident that killed 153 people, owner Spanair said Thursday.
The airline said it has not yet determined the cause of the crash Wednesday, the nation's worst air disaster in nearly 25 years. Only 19 people survived.

Spanair spokesman Javier Mendoza said a valve was reported overheating in the front of the plane under the cockpit and technicians corrected the problem by turning it off. Mendoza said the device is not on a list of equipment that has to be functional for a plane to take off. He told a news conference that turning off such a device in these circumstances is an accepted procedure.

Spanair says the plane was eventually cleared by company technicians. The plane crashed on its second attempt to take off for the Canary Islands.

Mendoza said the MD-82's two black box recorders have been recovered but one is damaged.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-08-21-Spain-pla...loc=interstitialskip
 
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanair MD-82 airliner was not on fire as it took off from Madrid's airport but lifted off slightly into the air, fell back to the ground and only caught fire after skidding off the side of the runway, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN Friday.


A total of 153 people were killed.

Initially there were indications an engine might have caught fire as the plane was taking off, but the source said airport video shows the plane lifting off, veering sharply right, and then dragging or skidding down the right side of the runway. There was a cloud of dust, the source said, followed by a fireball.

Canary Islands regional president Paulino Rivero said after meeting with Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, that the latter had seen the video and described it as showing the plane using up all the runway as it tried to take off, then never reaching adequate altitude, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, only 50 of the bodies recovered from the wreckage of Wednesday's crash have been identified, Spanish authorities said Friday. Watch as Spain deals with tragedy »

Many of the bodies are so badly burned that fingerprint identification is impossible and investigators will have to rely on DNA, officials said.

Nineteen survivors remained hospitalized Friday.

The plane was all but destroyed in the crash, a rescue worker said.

When emergency crews arrived on the scene, "you couldn't distinguish that there was an aircraft there, apart from the remains of the tail," Ergivio Corral said. "If you didn't know it, you wouldn't have been able to say there was a plane."

Authorities have already handed over the remains of 35 victims to their families, officials said.

Families of the victims are being housed in a hotel near the airport, and the government planned to brief them on the crash investigation Friday.

The cause of the accident is still unknown, but Spanair spokesman Javier Mendoza said flight data recorders had been recovered.

"One of them seems to be... a little bit damaged but (investigators) are confident they could use the information," Mendoza said. "But we have to wait for the downloading and the analysis" before any conclusions can be drawn, he said.

Witnesses earlier reported the plane banked violently to the right as it attempted to take off before slamming back to the ground and coming to a rest in a gully just off the runway at Madrid's Bajaras airport.


The plane's departure had been delayed for nearly two hours due to a technical problem with the aircraft, Mendoza said, but it was not clear whether that fault was related to the crash.


DNA to identify Spain air tragedy victims
Plane in Madrid crash a 'workhorse'
"The heating problem was treated and corrected by Spanair maintenance personnel," he said.

"We have reviewed the details on this faulty situation with the inspectors of our civil aviation authority," he said, "and we all come to the conclusion that was nothing abnormal in this resolution of that problem."

Madrid observed five minutes of silence Thursday to honor the victims, and the country began three days of mourning.


The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 carried 162 passengers, four non-working crew members and six working crew members, Spanair said. The aircraft was also carrying seven passengers from Lufthansa Flight 2554 on a flight scheduled to take more than two hours, airline spokeswoman Henriette Ellekrog told CNN.

Spanair, a low-cost airline that has a flight-sharing agreement with Lufthansa, is owned by SAS Scandinavian Airlines.

Twenty-two of the passengers were children, two of them infants, Spanair said. After contacting families, the airline published the names of those aboard on its Web site.

It was the first fatal accident at the airport since December 1983, when 93 people were killed as two Spanish airliners collided while taxiing for takeoff. The airport, which sits eight miles (13 km) northeast of central Madrid, is Spain's busiest, handling more than 40 million passengers a year.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/22/plane.crash.madrid/index.html
 
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Fiesta town mourns its 13 victims of Madrid plane crash

Graham Keeley in Madrid
The Observer, Sunday August 24 2008 Article history

The small town of San Bartolomé de Tirajana should have been celebrating the August fiesta this weekend. Instead, it will be trying to come to terms with the grim task of burying 13 of the town's inhabitants who were among the 153 killed in the Madrid airport tragedy last Wednesday.

The town of 50,000 in Gran Canaria is normally alive with partying, but instead there was an eerie silence yesterday. The only person who was busy was the florist, delivering flowers to the funeral chapel. The remains of some of the victims were being flown back this weekend to be laid to rest.

As the investigation into what caused Spanair flight JK 5022 to swerve off the runway at Madrid and burst into flames continued, many in San Bartolomé busied themselves preparing the chapel of rest.

Laudencio García, 51, a local councillor, his wife Lucrecia Hernández, 52, and their children Elena, 16, and Carlos, 14, were returning to the town for the festivities when tragedy struck. None of them survived.

'Thirteen sudden deaths is too much to believe. Until they bring them back, we cannot take it in. Meanwhile, we are not suffering, just in a dream,' said one resident. Carlos Herráez was the first of 153 victims to be buried on Friday. In the coming days there will be many more. Seventy of the casualties came from the Canary Islands.

In Madrid, relatives of those who died vented their fury at Spanair officials in a tense meeting, demanding to know what had caused the tragedy. 'I have lost my whole family and they are treating us like idiots,' said one relative. Some passengers had asked to be allowed to leave the aircraft after it aborted its first take-off but they were refused permission.

One man demanded: 'Is there a rule about what happens - when someone wants to get off, they can?'

Héctor Sandoval, Spanair's head of public relations, said it was up to the aircraft's captain.

In an earlier meeting with the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, some relatives insisted that they suspected a cover-up. 'There was negligence,' said one man. 'We have witnesses. Many of us received calls or messages from our relatives saying that something strange was happening.'

Spanish investigators have already questioned the mechanic who gave take-off clearance for the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 that crashed. Spanair says that the mechanic fixed a problem with an air temperature gauge which had forced the pilot to abandon his first attempt.

The mechanic is said to have told investigators that it was a minor problem and did not cause the crash, according to a report by the Spanish daily El País yesterday. Spanair has insisted the mechanical problem did not cause the tragedy. The investigation is expected to take up to a month.

A service for all the victims is to be held at Madrid's Almudena Cathedral on 1 September.

About this articleClose Fiesta town mourns its 13 victims of Madrid plane crash
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday August 24 2008 on p38 of the World news section. It was last updated at 00:01 on August 24 2008.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/madrid.spain
 
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Wing flaps of plane that crashed in Madrid did not deploy


A Spanair plane is seen during takeoff from the Barajas airport Aug. 24 in Madrid. A Spanair MD-82 jet made an unscheduled landing at an airport in Spain Aug. 24, the airline said, just four days after another Spanair plane of the same type crashed at Madrid airport.





MADRID, Spain (AP) "” Wing flaps failed on the Spanair flight that crashed last month and an alarm that is supposed to warn pilots of the problem never sounded, according to a preliminary report Tuesday on the accident that killed 154 people.
The investigators did not say whether they believe the flap malfunction caused the Aug. 20 crash that killed all but 18 people aboard the MD-82. They offered no theory on what triggered Spain's worst air disaster in 25 years.

Investigators also said they needed to further study a faulty air temperature gauge outside the cockpit, a problem that forced the pilot to abandon a first attempt at takeoff. Spanair has described it as a minor glitch that was resolved by turning off the gauge because it was not essential equipment. The plane crashed about an hour later during its second attempt to take off.

However, the report said the faulty gauge might be linked to the failure of the cockpit alarm horn, which is supposed to sound when a departing plane is not properly configured to get off the ground.

The findings were drawn from the flight data and cockpit voice recorders which showed no evidence of problems with the plane's two engines.

A Spanair official declined to comment on the report.

The investigation found wing flaps "” moveable panels on the trailing edge of a plane's wings that provide extra lift during takeoff "” failed to extend. But the pilots were unaware of the problem because the cockpit alarm did not go off.

The flight data recorder revealed that from the time the engines started on the runway until the crash, sensors measuring the position of the flaps gave a reading of zero degrees, which means they did not extend as they were supposed to.

A loud horn should have gone off in the cockpit, but "the cockpit voice recorder registered no sound from the takeoff warning system," the report said.

Some of the 18 survivors have said the plane struggled to gain speed and altitude during takeoff. The report says the plane only got 40 feet off the ground.

Investigators say the aircraft crashed tail-first, bounced three times as it skidded through a grassy area near the runway, then largely disintegrated and burned after halting at the edge of a stream.

The report was carried in Spanish media, and Spanair confirmed it had been given to the government and the plane's manufacturers.

The report said that in 1987 after another deadly MD-82 crash in Detroit, McDonnell Douglas recommended that airlines operating such planes check their takeoff warning system before each flight. That disaster also occurred on takeoff and killed 154 people on the plane "” the same toll as in the Madrid crash "” and two on the ground. A 4-year-old girl on the plane was the only survivor.

U.S. investigators blamed pilot error, concluding the pilot of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 had forgotten to set the wing flaps and slats "” panels on the wing's leading edge "” before takeoff.

A contributing factor was an absence of electrical power to the takeoff warning system that would have alerted the pilots that the flaps were not deployed, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. It said the reason for this absence was not determined.

Spanair's policy is to check the system before a plane's first flight of the day and during stopovers only if an entirely new cockpit crew takes over for the continuing leg, the Spanish investigators' report said.

If at least one member of the cockpit crew stays on "” as was the case in the plane that crashed "” Spanair does not carry out the checks, the investigators said.

The flight originated in Barcelona, stopped in Madrid and was to go on to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, and the pilot and co-pilot were not relieved.


http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-09-16-spain-planecrash_N.htm?csp=34
 
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