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Spanair accident at Madrid

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Spanair accident at Madrid

Old 26th Aug 2008, 16:51
  #961 (permalink)  
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@ Forget
thanks for the help with the image.

Sadly, yes it´s Rwy 36L. The photo is taken from one of the rescue helicopters that responded to the crash. It appears to be over the crash site and looking at south west. You can even see T4 in the background with lots of IBE tails. Don´t mix up with T4S , wich is in between Rwy 36L/R and not visible in the photo.


Last edited by JM340; 26th Aug 2008 at 17:01.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 16:51
  #962 (permalink)  
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The photograph shows the wheels tracks intact to the bank, and obviously something large, heavy and hot has detached and has maintained a straight course of its own through the wheel tracks.
From where it started and other photos, I would dare to guess it was the no.2 engine. If it was, I would not expect the pilots to be able to deploy the TR before it came loose.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 16:53
  #963 (permalink)  
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The area between the two runways should have been flattened and filled
Bear in mind that the threshold of 18R is 81ft (25m) lower than the threshold of 18L
the threshold of 36R is 42ft (12m) lower than the threshold of 36L

there's still going to be a slope there.

Comparing the photo to the satellite pic, it sure looks like 36L, and matches the description given by an Iberia captain in a much earlier post
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 16:56
  #964 (permalink)  
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That was a severe swing to the right, and an equally quick correction. I would support the theory that the 'straight track' is the starboard reverse, possibly at high power until ?reduced? to correct the swing, or did its trail fade as perhaps the wings levelled? Equally, as Rainboe says, it could have been something 'hot and heavy' and detached. So, was it asymmetric reverse or the right wingtip drag that caused that dramatic swerve to the right?

It is now possible to tie down the exit point from examination of the R18 touchdown markers, and it would appear to me that the initial touchdown was off the runway and already angled well to the right.

I have tried zooming to max pixellation and cannot identify the debris between the wheel tracks and the runway. Is that part of an engine casing just right of mid-picture?
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:11
  #965 (permalink)  
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Are you saying that you personally recognise the area seen in the background of this photo (which is not T4, which would be further down at the far end of the runway to the left of the photo) comprising various airport buildings, aircraft and a town immediately behind up to the horizon?
Sort of... The Terminal / Aircraft you see are either N end of T4, or maybe the new cargo (?) maint (?) area built more recently to the N of it? I'm sure I've seen something there whilst getting lost in the 36L holding area

The buildings seem to concur with Google Earth.

The built up area behind you drive through when coming in from the city (I think).

I would not swear it is 36L - rather I can see nothing to state it is not

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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:12
  #966 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by NigelOnDraft
For how far out of interest? 100m? 500M 1KM?

Oh - and I presume whatever number you conjour up, we will have to clear all taxiways out that far as well - since a taxiing aircraft there would have caused the same result...
You made it clear your point many times already, it's the same "should not crash in first place, hence ...". Well I don't agree with that.

All the airport area, ground, etc should be made free of obstacles for as much as possible, and allow unobstructed acess to emergency veicles.

Taxing aircraft is different - they don't slide for kilometers.

I'm sure a reccomendation about eliminating rough areas will be present in the accident report.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:17
  #967 (permalink)  
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would support the theory that the 'straight track' is the starboard reverse,
I'm wondering about that... - more likely the nosewheel/nose? The track described continues straight, between the main-gear tracks during the changes in direction. The rear engines would track with the main gear and follow the main gear tracks.

I realize this would mean a significant difference between heading and track at touchdown but bear in mind the airplane had just been dragging it's right wing... Also, it is difficult to tell how deep the tracks are as they track to starboard - the lateral 'g' would be significant.

The main gear touchdown point shows a relatively wings-level attitude. There are no marks "outboard" of the main gear tracks so wingtip marks would be earlier in the sequence.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:23
  #968 (permalink)  
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For the doubters?) the white /beige building seen towards the top with 7 small chimneys and 6 dark shapes facing the camera.
Look on Google Earth at 40deg 30' 07.57" - 3deg 34' 35.61". looks to be the same building. To the immediate right is another building with a set of cooling fans on the roof, prominent on the Sat photo
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:30
  #969 (permalink)  
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That photo of the skid marks appears too simple for an out of control aircraft.

I expect though that some of the folks on here may make sense out of it

In my experience skid marks may not be uniform for several reasons

The ground is not uniform

The antiskid system leaves different marks on different sides

The weight on wheels varies with aircraft wing roll

If you can sort this out in a stalled aircraft case considering rudder inputs then you may have a clue
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:33
  #970 (permalink)  
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The image above showing wheel marks alongside a runway cannot relate to the subject Spanair accident, not least because this is definitely not the same runway that was involved.
Then you posted this, and deleted it.
Ok. I don't recognise any of the background in the photo. I may be wrong, but I'd like to see if anyone confirms that this is definitely Madrid and tells us what building we can see in the background with all the aircraft beside it.
Images below show rough bore-sight of the camera. Red dot is common reference. See the background building - 'with all the aircraft beside it'.

By the way, cracking first post.

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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:39
  #971 (permalink)  
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One mainly just uses one's common, Nigel. The space between two parallel runways, I am sure you would agree, is not a good place to put a big building for your plane to crash into. No more so a bloody great hole in the ground for it to fall into.

Equally, don't put things in potential overrun areas that don't need to be there, e.g. sunken roads, ditches, berms, concrete lighting bases etc. which were only put there because it didn't occur to them a plane could hit them. The Canadian TSB recommended 300M clear flat areas around runways after Toronto, roughly in line with the NTSB's rec of 1000ft. Good enough for me, since you asked. That could well have saved this lot.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:39
  #972 (permalink)  
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I find it odd not being able to track the nosewheel marks... That can only mean one thing for me; nosewheel was above the ground (i.e. no contact), so pitch angle was +ve...
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:46
  #973 (permalink)  
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Please, note that the airplane, after touching the ground for the first time (reportely moderately hitting it with the right wing first) is said to have bounced up and down (possibly meaning that all wheels left the ground) at lest 6 times and "use" another aprox. 500m of terrain until it "exploded".

Imagine this scenario.

1) Pilots rotate unaware that their configuration for take off is wrong (i.e. both slats not correct, flaps angle insufficient, etc). Perhaps warning signs of incorrect slats/flaps were disminished by the result of the first call to service (i.e. airplane was in air/ground mode, alarms disconnected inadvertly, some other malfunction, etc).

2) Pilots don't take much action although rotation lasts for a bit longer than it should. Maybe they figure they were a bit heavier than they estimated or tail wind was playing them up a little. They are after V1 anyway and can't figure out anything wrong (yet). Their nose angle is a bit off.

3) Airplane takes off. Stall warnings come up as soon as ground effect is over. Perhaps some of the alarms didn't work properly for the reasons stated above or unknown. Airplane starts an uncontrolled roll for random stall conditions.

4) They concentrate a bit on controlling the roll which delays their action of nose-down, flaps-15, max throttle. Their reaction is perhaps late because the aureal alarm didn't sound and only the shaker indicated the stall plus they had to control the heavy roll "first", unsure of the stall warning being real. Perhaps they even decided to (or accidentaly) "pull up" a bit as first reaction (against training, but after all, they were taking off and "pull up a bit" is a natural first reaction if you are falling and you want to go up).

5) The airplane touches the ground, barely hitting the wing first, but off-course. But the pilots already commanded full throttle, lowered the flaps/correcting slats, and are already nose-leveled, but a few seconds too late to recover from the slightly low V2 speed and heavy weight. Some mechanical damage is sustained from the fall, as it was above max landing weight (fueled-up/heavy/harsh 15m stall fall) plus the wing touched ground. The pilots may have suffered some injuries too.

6) Now the airplane "recovers", starts accelerating again, and has good wing configuration, but rotating is hard (landing gear may have problems, airplane might be off path on the landing strip, etc). The airplane bounces around a few times, wheels leaving the ground briefly, but not quite (bad nose angle, weight, other control problems). Just a couple of seconds after the full throttle was commanded and perhaps even before the engines could start to truly perform (low air density), the pilots decide to abort.

7) They try to deploy reversers, brake, partially or fully successfully. It's too late. The airplane has even accelerated a bit, and after 3 or 4 more bounces, it hits obstacles at very high speed.

A million different things could've happened. Some more likely, some less, some way less/almost impossible. But such complex scenarios, as the one described, without one major clear-cut cause, is going to have to be widely speculative and therefore of little value since only hard-evidence (FDR) can (dis)prove it.

We'll just have to sit and wait for the official investigation, hope it can shed enough light to find a very likely cause(s) and a way to improve a solution.

Last edited by justme69; 26th Aug 2008 at 18:00.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:47
  #974 (permalink)  
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the start of the "centre track" seems to show substantial burning (blacker than later) perhaps the right engine detached from the plane there and there was a fuel spill causing the scorching?

I believe running engines when detaching tend to continue having a forward motion (El Al Amsterdam) for a short while

The tracks start some way off the runway, suggesting that the touchdown was on the grass, not the runway. No visible loose parts on the runway.

So uncommanded trust reverse on the right engine with a hard landing on the grass, could this lead to the engine detaching?
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:49
  #975 (permalink)  
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That can only mean one thing for me; nosewheel was above the ground (i.e. no contact), so pitch angle was +ve...
With the tremendous drag from the mains, I don't think that would be the case. I believe the nosewheel mark is the straight line which starts at some distance ahead of the main gear t/d point and tracks - comments made 5 posts back.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:56
  #976 (permalink)  
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I think there is a nosewheel mark, though much more slight than the main wheels and intermittent, as if they were still attempting to rotate
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 17:56
  #977 (permalink)  
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There are news stories on RTVE and El Mundo of a first appearance by CIAIAC (investigation body) head Francisco Javier Soto.
No tire or other marks found on runway. Plane came down in the "fringe zone" beside the runway.
Plane did three "leaps" due to uneven ground and traveled 1200m until coming to stop.
Plane touched down tail first (not clear if at initial contact or after the leap it must have made after the service road seen in the photo)
Black boxes are in the UK for examination guarded by Spanish authority representatives.
Those who are better at Spanish, please fill in and correct.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 18:00
  #978 (permalink)  
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At Last some Facts

At a press conference held this afternoon, the CIAIAC (in spanish Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil) gives the first preliminary data about the accident:

- The aircraft first contact with the ground was with the tail, that detached (not clear from the statement if all the tail cone) from the fuselage.
- No skid marks on the runway, nor any sign of impact of other parts of the aircraft in the runway.
- The aircraft bounced three times, as it encountered different terrain level off the runway.

In spanish, newspaper El Mundo :
El avión accidentado impactó primero en el suelo con la cola y ya estaba fuera de pista | elmundo.es


PS: @Snowfalcon2,we were almost posting at same time, according to the news, the first contact was with the tail, then skidded 1,200 meters.

Last edited by JM340; 26th Aug 2008 at 18:11.
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 18:02
  #979 (permalink)  
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there are a few other odd things about the picture:

1. It seems the plane landed slightly earlier/heavier on the left (see initial indentation size as opposed to right gear)

2. Whatever made the straight trajectory (3rd mark), which starts with a serious ground scorching, seems to have dragged on in a straight line, not the tumbling you would expect of an engine
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Old 26th Aug 2008, 18:06
  #980 (permalink)  
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The new article makes these points of interest:

-The tail hit the ground first outside of the landing strip, breaking/detaching itself.
-The plane continued another 1200m after this, not on a "straight line", but bouncing 3 times (due to the shape of the terrain) and sustaining more and more damage each time.

This is official information from the technical secretary of the comission for civil air accidents.

This ends the question on trying to control it or taking off again after the first fall and obviously means that the first fall was more off-course and more severe than previously reported. Also, that it wasn't the wing that hit the ground (first), but the tail.

As reported previously, flight recorders are in England to have the information extracted/recovered.

They expect to have a preliminary report stating only known facts (not speculating on probable causes) in about 1 month.

Both engines are in reasonable good condition and are being analysed.

Last edited by justme69; 26th Aug 2008 at 18:29.
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