Loss of engine power may be cause of Madrid crash

25th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Airport video camera recording shows the MD-82 plane bounce six times while taking off before it burst into flames.

25 August 2008

MADRID -- Investigators are analyzing whether a sudden loss of engine power could be behind the airplane crash that killed 154 people last Wednesday at Barajas airport in Madrid.

An elite unit of the Civil Guard is considering this hypothesis after viewing the airport video camera recording of Spanair flight JK5022 as it took off and almost immediately fell back to the ground, bouncing up to six times before going up in flames, sources close to the inquiry said.

The initial death toll of 153 rose to 154 after a 31-year-old woman who had burns on 72 percent of her body died at a Madrid hospital over the weekend. On Sunday, a 44-year-old woman went into an irreversible coma as a result of her injuries.

Out of 17 people who remain hospitalised, seven are in a serious condition.

The airport recording shows how the plane, an MD-82, used up almost the entire runway before taking off, even though it is the longest airstrip in Spain and one of the longest in Europe.

According to the inquiry, the fact that the plane took off almost half a kilometre later than normal could point to engine-power problems.

The video also shows that neither of the two engines went up in flames in the air, as was originally thought. The aircraft, which was carrying a full load of 162 passengers plus a 10-member crew and 15 tons of fuel, exploded after hitting the ground.

Reverse system
Investigators think one possibility is that the plane's reverse system was automatically activated for unknown reasons in the right engine. Aimed at helping the plane land by slowing it down, the activation of this system in only one engine would explain why the aircraft was seen veering to the right before crashing, sources said.

Investigators are still considering several options as they wait for a complete analysis of the black box that recorded the cockpit dialogue.

Spanair has said the initial mechanical failure that caused a departure delay had nothing to do with the accident.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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