Spainair footage shows no engine explosion

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The Independent Online

Video footage shot by Spain’s airport authority Aena reportedly shows the doomed Spanair plane showed no sign of a blazing engine as it took off from Madrid. But the aircraft lacked power as it struggled to rise above 50 metres and crashed in flames, killing 153 people but with 19 survivors.

Airport security images showed no engine explosion, press reports said. The plane ran the length of the runway struggled into the air, then crashed, skidded, broke up and burned.

The plane must have suffered more than one mechanical failure, Spain’s civil aviation director, Manuel Bautista, said. “Engine failure alone would not be enough to cause the accident. It would have to combine with other causes to bring the plane down. I’m not even sure that the engine did fail.”

Modern aircraft were designed to fly on one engine in an emergency, and pilots frequently practised doing just that, Mr Bautista said.

The fault in the air-vent heating system, which Spanair said delayed the plane’s initial takeoff but was fixed before the second attempt, would not have caused the accident. Jose Maria Delgado, an air maintenance technician, told El Pais yesterday: “The initial fault had nothing to do with the accident.”

Pieces of the left engine could have come off, hit the right engine and probably the tail rudder, making the plan uncontrollable, too late to launch emergency measures: that was one scenario offered by sources from the government-run Civil Aviation department.

Spanair members of the pilots’ union Sepla had complained in emails published in \[johnsd\]Spain’s seven-man commission investigating the causes of the crash was studying the two black boxes, and gathering witness statements from survivors, flight controllers and technicians, Emilio Valero, one legal investigator said yesterday. He hoped to have a result “within a month”.

A collective funeral is planned for a week on Monday after identity checks.