Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New details about the Spanair MD-82 crash in Madrid

SpanairSpanish officials held a press conference earlier today regarding the fatal crash last week of a Spanair MD-82 aircraft at Madrid's Barajas International Airport. The investigation into the cause of the accident, which happened on August 20, 2008 as Spanair Flight JK5022 was departing Madrid for the Canary Islands, is ongoing. However Francisco Javier Soto of the Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil (CIAIAC), the Spanish agency leading the accident investigation, provided some details about what is known so far.

According to an account of the press conference published by the Spanish news service El Mundo, the aircraft was airborne only briefly before hitting the ground tail first, and then bouncing three times across the area adjacent to runway 36 L at Barajas Airport. The aircraft's tailcone is believed to have separated first; subsequently the rest of the aircraft broke up progressively with each bounce and caught fire.

Soto stated that no skid marks or other signs of contact by the aircraft were found on the runway itself, but that the aircraft continued for about 1,200 meters after it left the runway, bouncing over the uneven terrain. Soto indicated that the uneven ground contributed to the destruction of the aircraft.

Both of the aircraft's engines have been recovered, and Soto said that their condition was good enough to expect them to yield important information. Both the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) have been recovered, and data from both devices is being evaluated. The FDR was damaged, but technicians in England are in the process of enhancing the data. Soto indicated that the data obtained from both devices was expected to provide valuable contributions to the investigation.

The Commission expects to issue a preliminary accident report within a month. That report will present factual information, but the investigation into the accident's cause will continue for some time.

The death toll from the Spanair accident has climbed to 154, as one of the initial survivors has succumbed to injuries. Two accident survivors, including a child, have been released from medical care to date.

Names of the crew members have not been officially released, however news reports have said that one flight attendant, identified as Antonia Martinez Jimenez, has survived. She was not working on the accident flight, but was on board as a (dead-heading) passenger.

An online Condolences Book has been established on the Spanair website.

UPDATE Sep. 17, 2008: Aviation news website Flight International published an article today with information from the draft report on the Spanair accident by Spain's Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil (CIAIAC). The report includes a timeline of events leading to the crash. Here is the link to the article: Inquiry timeline details Spanair MD-82 crash sequence - Flight International, Sep. 17, 2008

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Spanair Flt 5022 on Aircrew Buzz.