Spanair crash judge seeks European expertise

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The judge has not able to find qualified experts in Spain who are able to report objectively on the crash that killed 154 people in August 2008.

MADRID – The judge probing an August crash in Madrid airport that killed 154 people will ask the European Aviation Safety Agency for an expert report on the causes, he said in a ruling Wednesday.

Judge Juan Javier Perez said he had been unable to find qualified experts in Spain who are also "completely objective and impartial" to look into the Spanair accident.

He has so far ruled out six experts either because they know people who are under investigation or in one case because the technician works for flag carrier Iberia which carries out maintenance work on Spanair planes.

The McDonnell Douglas-82, on a flight to the Canary Islands, crashed moments after taking off from Madrid airport on 20 August. Only 18 of the 172 people aboard survived Spain's deadliest air accident in 25 years.

The chief pilot had aborted an earlier take-off attempt because of a faulty temperature gauge on an air intake valve, a problem that was fixed by mechanics prior to take-off.

The probe into the crash has reportedly focused on the possibility that the wing flaps were not properly extended on take-off and an alarm failed to alert the pilots to the problem.

In October 2008, Perez placed the head of Spanair's maintenance staff and two mechanics under formal investigation for "manslaughter and injuries caused by carelessness."

But the following month he dropped the investigation against one of the mechanics due to a lack of evidence of wrongdoing.

AFP / Expatica

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