Spanair says never planned to switch crashed jet

Reuters

Published : August, 30, 2008

MADRID: Spanair said on Saturday it never considered replacing a jet that suffered a technical problem before it crashed on take off last week in Spain, killing 154 people.

The airline made the comments after a Spanish government minister said Spanair had told authorities at Madrid airport it was considering replacing the aircraft, then opted to repair it instead.

Spanair said it followed standard procedure and informed the airport that, should a change of aircraft be required, there was another one available for flight JK5022 to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

“At no time did it (Spanair) indicate its intention to substitute the aircraft that suffered the accident,” it said in a press release.

Spanair presented its version of events as authorities said they had finished identifying all 154 victims of Spain’s worst crash in 25 years. The process took so long due to the severity of burns to some bodies.

The Spanair plane was originally due to take off at 1 pm on Aug 20. After moving away from the terminal and approaching the runway it returned because of a technical problem.

Spanish Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez told Congress on Friday Spanair had informed Madrid’s Barajas airport it was considering changing the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft due to a fault in a temperature gauge.

“Later it told the airport control centre that it was keeping it,” Alvarez said.

The airline, owned by Scandinavia’s SAS, said its technicians decided not to swap the aircraft as it required only a minor repair that would take no more than 15 minutes.

After 33 minutes on the stand, it set out again and crashed into a ravine at the edge of the runway moments after takeoff.

Only 18 people survived. Fourteen of them remain in hospital, two in very serious condition.

An airport video shows the aircraft swerving off course shortly after take off.

One engine on the plane may have had a fault that slammed it into reverse and caused the plane to veer out of control, Spanish newspapers have reported, quoting investigators.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay and Raquel Castillo; editing by Robert Hart)

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