UK to help solve Spanish crash riddle

BRITISH ACCIDENT investigators travelled to Spain yesterday to help discover why a holiday jet carrying 245 passengers and crew skidded off the runway on landing and broke into three pieces.

More than 50 of the British passengers were taken to hospital after the accident at Gerona airport, on the Costa Brava, late on Tuesday. Yesterday only the pilot and four passengers were still receiving treatment, and none was said to be in a serious condition.

The Britannia Airways Boeing 757 landed in thunderstorm, and those on board spoke of it bouncing and skimming across the wet runway before careering into a muddy field and coming to a halt.

Passengers screamed and there was some panic as they scrambled to get clear, but others stopped to help women and children escape. "I thought my husband and I were dead and we would never see our children again," said Rita Sharp,from Swansea, who was among those treated in hospital. "I have seen the pictures of the plane broken in three today and we were all lucky to get out."

Experts believe that the weather will turn out to be the main factor. But they are also interested to know about the quality of information that the pilot was getting from the control tower as he tried to land the aircraft. "Was he given good information? And given that information, did the pilot make a good decision to continue with the landing? These are the things that will be considered by investigators," said David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flight International magazine.

The three-man British team consists of an engineering expert, an operations expert and someone skilled in interpreting the "black-box" flight recorder. They will work alongside Spanish investigators.

The airport director said the stormy weather contributed to the accident but it was too early to establish the direct cause. One spokesman told Spanish radio that the airport power system cut out for a while, plunging the area into darkness. Another report said the pilot may have been momentarily blinded by lightning.

The flight left Cardiff at 8.40 on Tuesday evening, with most on board bound for holidays in resorts along the Costa Brava. But the plane ran into a terrible storm that lashed Catalonia on Tuesday night, and the pilot had already made one unsuccessful landing attempt before coming in again.

"We touched down but then it was like someone throwing a pebble across a lake. We just skimmed along the runway," said said David Dennis, 72, a retired steel worker from Swansea.

Brian Perry, another passenger, from Caerphilly, said: "Flashes of lightning were all around us as we made the approach. The plane seemed to touch ground and then bounce. It was certainly out of control."

A spokesman for Gerona airport's air traffic control said: "The Britannia Airways plane arrived and made a passing approach to assess the conditions. Under normal circumstances, if there is a problem about landing at Gerona, aircraft will fly on to Barcelona. But the weather there was also very bad."

A Britannia spokesman said: "At no time were the passengers in danger, although it must have been an unusual experience for them. The 757 is a very sturdy plane."

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Year 6 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

Year 3/4 Teacher - Immediate Start

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 Teacher Needed in Flintshire ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits