Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spain Plane Crash: Whither the MD-80?

As I've said here repeatedly, airline safety and maintenance is the next big story in air travel.

Re that plane crash that killed at least 45 in Madrid today: The plane was an MD-80, a model of aging aircraft that has had well-documented safety problems in the last year. It was operated by a cost-cutting, financially troubled airline. (More-current reports put the number of dead in Madrid at 150.)

Where did that airplane come from, and what is its maintenance history? Those are the two key questions, and I'll get back to this once I know the answers. These are questions that, I fear, we'll be asking more often in the future as the true extent of the safety/maintenance crisis becomes more clear.

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1 comment:

Allen said...

We can always look at the aircraft as the cause of this and other crashes. We must, however, be thorough in examining all the possibilities. As of 9/18/08, there are some preliminary reports surfacing that point to several possible problems that led to this crash.
The one that struck me was the similarity of this crash to one that I happened to be in the vicinity of in August, 1987. In that crash of an MD-82(DC-9), Northwest flight 255, departing from DTW, the primary cause was linked to the failure of the flight crew to extend the flaps and spoilers during their final checks before takeoff. The plane couldn't get any altitude, and crashed onto Middlebelt Rd. at I-94, west of Detroit.
Fast-forward to Span-Air: preliminary indications are that the flaps and spoilers were not extended at the time of the attempted takeoff.
Again, these are preliminary results. Let's keep an open mind as to what caused this crash.