Flaps not extended on ill-fated Spanair jet

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
Flaps not extended on ill-fated Spanair jet: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wing flaps on a Spanair jetliner that crashed in Spain last month killing 154 people were not fully extended before takeoff, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Citing people familiar with the investigation, the Journal said preliminary information from the MD-82's flight data recorder shows the movable flaps on the rear of the wings were not properly positioned. The flaps provide extra lift.

Information from the "black box" data recorder also indicates that both engines were working properly and there was no fire before impact into a ravine at the edge of the Madrid airport runway, the sources told the newspaper.

But the Journal also said investigators wanted to know why a loud horn designed to alert the crew to equipment problem apparently did not sound.

They were also checking why the unextended flaps apparently were not noticed during the pilots' routine pre-departure equipment check.

The August 20 accident was Spain's worst air crash in 25 years. Eighteen people survived.

Investigators were not expected to reach conclusions for some time, and the probe could still yield other results.

The MD-80 family is manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, which is now part of Boeing Co. Spanair is owned by Scandanavia's SAS.


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This sounds quite familiar to another accident in aviation history...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_255
 

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
I won't say anything about the Spanair flight since it's still under investigation; but regarding the 1987 and 1988 accidents, did people just not run checklists back then or something???
It was not only poor checklist usage, but also the fact that many crews would disable the alarm that would warn them the flaps were out of position. Since the crews would taxi single-engine, they would need to position the thrust levers past the point where the flap alarm would sound. So to avoid this "nuisance" warning, they would pull a circuit breaker to silence it. Whether that circuit breaker was in or out in these crashes, who knows.
 

dc3flyer

Well-Known Member
Wing flaps ..... were not fully extended before takeoff,

Tell me if I am wrong, but I didn't know there was a plane that the flaps are supposed to be FULLY extended for takeoff.

Also, of course being unfamiliar with an MD-82, is there only one possible flap selection for takeoff? On the Hawker, there is the option for "flaps 15" and "flaps 0" takeoffs, depending on variables you may want one over the other, although 15 is the most common.

I also heard after this happened that the crash was the SECOND attempted takeoff, did anyone else hear this?
 

joliet

New Member
Well they had an MX issue and went back to the gate, did they silence the aural warning system?

I can see it happening. Could happen to any of us.
 

JoelT

Well-Known Member
Tell me if I am wrong, but I didn't know there was a plane that the flaps are supposed to be FULLY extended for takeoff.

Also, of course being unfamiliar with an MD-82, is there only one possible flap selection for takeoff? On the Hawker, there is the option for "flaps 15" and "flaps 0" takeoffs, depending on variables you may want one over the other, although 15 is the most common.

I also heard after this happened that the crash was the SECOND attempted takeoff, did anyone else hear this?
I think "fully" means not fully in the correct position.

I have never flown the -82 but, in the 717 (same type) a correct T/O flap position can be any where between zero and 22 (ie: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22). It changes each flight for weight and runway.
 

wheelsup

Well-Known Member
I think "fully" means not fully in the correct position.

I have never flown the -82 but, in the 717 (same type) a correct T/O flap position can be any where between zero and 22 (ie: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22). It changes each flight for weight and runway.

My God that sounds complicated!! I'd hate to see your performance paperwork!!! :D
 

Baronman

Well-Known Member
Isn't it called "Dial a flap or Select a flap?" You can choose whatever setting you want.

I think there is an ex md-80 pilot on this site but he may not speak up. You know how these guy's heads swell when they start going international.
 

typhoonpilot

Well-Known Member
It is Dial a Flap and the flaps can be set anywhere from 0 to 24 degrees for takeoff. With the takeoff from a long runway and no obstacles off the end the flap setting would probably have been low. It probably wouldn't have been very low because max tire speeds start becoming an issue at high and hot airports due to the increase in true airspeed.

Typhoonpilot
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Tell me if I am wrong, but I didn't know there was a plane that the flaps are supposed to be FULLY extended for takeoff
The F-15 has flaps full down for takeoff.

Of course, there are only two flap positions on the Eagle....up and down.
 

NuevaLuna

New Member
It was not only poor checklist usage, but also the fact that many crews would disable the alarm that would warn them the flaps were out of position. Since the crews would taxi single-engine, they would need to position the thrust levers past the point where the flap alarm would sound. So to avoid this "nuisance" warning, they would pull a circuit breaker to silence it. Whether that circuit breaker was in or out in these crashes, who knows.
Are you sure about this?

Every operator I know of sets the flaps prior to taxi and therefore "bitchin' betty" doesn't yell at you. And yes, the dial-a-flap allows anywhere from 0-24 (except 14) but most of the time it will be flaps 11 on the -88.
 

Orange Anchor

New Member
Tell me if I am wrong, but I didn't know there was a plane that the flaps are supposed to be FULLY extended for takeoff.
The 737 Classics usually used 1, 5 or occasionally 15. With 1 you had essentially only trailing edge and little leading edge.

On the -80 you had leading edge slats and trailing edge and as others have noted, you had the 'dial-a-flap' but you used standard settings because more often than not, you didn't have the data for the other settings.

On the Airbi, you have config 0 (or up) and 1, 2, 3 and 4. The actual flap angles vary but for simplicity, you takeoff normally in 1 or 2 and landing in 3 or 4.

There are other machines where flaps are up or down and the one that comes immediately to mind is the BUFF. Our Citation has up, approach and land so 3.. and NO leading edge. The F-28s and early DC-9s also had no leading edge.
 

Orange Anchor

New Member
It was not only poor checklist usage, but also the fact that many crews would disable the alarm that would warn them the flaps were out of position.
The habit of disabling the warning system was found in the DTW crash but it has not been established in the SpanAir culture.

Every culture has its 'red light' and 'yellow light' rules.. the red ones being those you never violate and the yellow lights that everyone knows you are not supposed to violate and more often than not are not violated but it does happen. Remember too, you can run a checklist 1000 times correctly and miss an item on the 1001st and everyone cites 'poor' something as the cause. I try to remember that many can not correctly go through an entire day without making an error so simple as dialing a 10 digit phone number.

What we have to realize is that accidents are actually the exception.
 

fly8slep

New Member
The habit of disabling the warning system was found in the DTW crash but it has not been established in the SpanAir culture.

Every culture has its 'red light' and 'yellow light' rules.. the red ones being those you never violate and the yellow lights that everyone knows you are not supposed to violate and more often than not are not violated but it does happen. Remember too, you can run a checklist 1000 times correctly and miss an item on the 1001st and everyone cites 'poor' something as the cause. I try to remember that many can not correctly go through an entire day without making an error so simple as dialing a 10 digit phone number.

What we have to realize is that accidents are actually the exception.
With all due respect in aviation you only have to be 100% right 100% of the time. We're not talking about misdialing the number for pizza delivery, were' talking about flap settings. Luckly most of the RJs with 200 hour pilots have a takeoff safety system. I just hope the'res got to be more to this accident for the sake of the victims and Spanair.
 

Orange Anchor

New Member
With all due respect in aviation you only have to be 100% right 100% of the time. We're not talking about misdialing the number for pizza delivery, were' talking about flap settings. Luckly most of the RJs with 200 hour pilots have a takeoff safety system. I just hope the'res got to be more to this accident for the sake of the victims and Spanair.
with all due respect, if it has to be 100% right 100% of the time, I'm not going. On every flight there a number of mistakes that are made and most are either corrected or have little or no negative consequence. My point about dialing was to demonstrate that some of us are not only not very good at multi-tasking contrary to our high opinions of ourselves, of that group many are not consistently competent single-taskers. Yet we hear, as in your post, that it has to be 100% correct.

When was your last flight? And the one before that? Always on speed? Always on heading? Always on altitude? Never miss a radio call or miss the clearance? Never give the incorrect response on a checklist? Never set the wrong inbound or freq or identifier in the nav/comm/fms?

As a check airman for a number of years, I preferred to see airmen make mistakes because then I had a chance to see how well and how fast they could detect the mistake and recover. A flawless ride or near flawless one, while certainly an awesome sight, was a bit scary in that you didn't know if that was the one day the guy was the ace of the base. Of course, based on the overall ride, you had a good idea but when the shift came, it was a hard sell to a lot of check airmen to actually grade UP a crew that made a few mistakes and corrected them. Why? because all the things we wanted to see were happening such as monitoring, challenge, response, working together, good communication, managing workload, etc.

Perfection is the target, for sure but 100% error free? Not going to happen, IMHO. And 'zero defect' , etc make for good posters but do not reflect reality.
 

Polar742

All the responsibility none of the authority
Excellent, excellent posts, OA.

The red light - yellow light concept is a new way for me of looking at that topic.

Good stuff.

Although far less experienced, I'd always be more impressed with crews that got jammed up, be it internal or external reasons, and professionally worked themselves out of it. There were a couple times where I wondered if I could have handled the same situation with such professionalism.
 

germb747

Well-Known Member
with all due respect, if it has to be 100% right 100% of the time, I'm not going. On every flight there a number of mistakes that are made and most are either corrected or have little or no negative consequence. My point about dialing was to demonstrate that some of us are not only not very good at multi-tasking contrary to our high opinions of ourselves, of that group many are not consistently competent single-taskers. Yet we hear, as in your post, that it has to be 100% correct.

When was your last flight? And the one before that? Always on speed? Always on heading? Always on altitude? Never miss a radio call or miss the clearance? Never give the incorrect response on a checklist? Never set the wrong inbound or freq or identifier in the nav/comm/fms?

As a check airman for a number of years, I preferred to see airmen make mistakes because then I had a chance to see how well and how fast they could detect the mistake and recover. A flawless ride or near flawless one, while certainly an awesome sight, was a bit scary in that you didn't know if that was the one day the guy was the ace of the base. Of course, based on the overall ride, you had a good idea but when the shift came, it was a hard sell to a lot of check airmen to actually grade UP a crew that made a few mistakes and corrected them. Why? because all the things we wanted to see were happening such as monitoring, challenge, response, working together, good communication, managing workload, etc.

Perfection is the target, for sure but 100% error free? Not going to happen, IMHO. And 'zero defect' , etc make for good posters but do not reflect reality.
:yeahthat:
 

Orange Anchor

New Member
Excellent, excellent posts, OA.

The red light - yellow light concept is a new way for me of looking at that topic.

Good stuff.

Although far less experienced, I'd always be more impressed with crews that got jammed up, be it internal or external reasons, and professionally worked themselves out of it. There were a couple times where I wondered if I could have handled the same situation with such professionalism.
every organization has those concepts whether they admit it or not. The ones that admit it at least know there is a problem. The ones that deny it are possibly headed for an incident/accident. They may skate indefinitely and each time they skate, it only re-inforces the belief they can operate error free. Vaughan refers to it as 're-defining deviance' while Dekker calls it 'drift to failure'. And as noted in other threads, we see that in Alaska 261, Columbia, Challenger and other accidents.

Capt Ace Dazzle is hot and high but 'makes it work'. What does Ace come away with? Too often the wrong lessons are learned and he believes he can do it again and not suffer consequence. He did it once... do it again or was that his one freebie? And too, there may be additional reinforcing if Ace gets the reputation of being a real great stick that can always make it work.

When you hear "I can make it work" you know 1) you're not in the normal envelope and 2) it is going to take some unusual effort to get it back into the normal envelope and 3) it may or may not work.
 
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