Spanair crash prompts FAA best practices list

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The US FAA has created a specific website that directs airline officials to a large number of documents and studies the agency says can be considered best practices in the areas of checklist design, training, procedures, crew resource management and error trapping.

The action comes as a result of initial findings from an August 2008 crash of a Spanair MD-82 on takeoff from Spain's Madrid Barajas International airport.

"This investigation in ongoing, but initial findings identify the need for safety improvements in carrier operations," says the FAA in an Information for Operators publication released earlier this week. "Consolidation of the numerous resources which provide information and guidance on air carrier operations and procedures, including checklist design, facilitates the use of these resources."

Preliminary reports from the Spanish authorities have indicated that the pilots failed to carry out the required flap and slat position checks before departure, and likely attempted to take off with the high-lift devices stowed. The aircraft failed to gain lift and crashed off the departure end of the runway, killing 154 of the 172 passengers and crew on board.