Crash plane ‘was almost swapped’

The airline involved in the Madrid plane crash had considered switching aircraft at the last minute, a Spanish government minister said.

Spanair flight JK 5022 was delayed for about an hour because of a problem with an air temperature gauge.

The aircraft crashed on 20 August, just after take-off, killing 154 people.

Magdalena Alvarez told a parliamentary panel that Spanair had “indicated to the airport the possibility of replacing the plane with another”.

Ms Alvarez, the Spanish development minister, said Spanair “told the airport control centre that it had decided to continue with the plane… which is the one that crashed”.

She was summoned before the Spanish Congress to testify on Spain’s air safety procedures in the wake of the accident.

Spanair has not spoken publicly about having considered changing planes. A spokesman said the company could not discuss what had happened to the aircraft, because the accident was under judicial investigation.

However, it has previously insisted that the gauge problem had nothing to do with the crash.

The Spanish government has promised a full investigation into the crash, which is the country’s worst air accident in 25 years.

Sources close to the investigation, quoted by the newspaper El Pais, say the plane may have lacked sufficient engine power during take-off.

Video footage showed the plane travelled much further along the runway than normal before getting airborne, the paper reported.



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