European safety authorities are to require crews of Boeing MD-80 aircraft, and related variants, to test configuration-warning systems on the types before every flight.

The order is contained in a newly-issued airworthiness directive and follows the fatal loss of a Spanair MD-82 during take-off from Madrid on 20 August.

While the inquiry into the accident is continuing, Spanish investigators have already determined that the aircraft's configuration warning did not sound, despite evidence that the crew failed to deploy the jet's flaps before departure.

In its directive the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says the configuration-warning system check should be carried out before engine start.

Crews will need to move both throttles forward and observe take-off warning sounds, before moving the throttles back to the idle position and checking that the warning stops.

EASA highlights a similar fatal accident to a Northwest Airlines MD-82 at Detroit in 1987. The aircraft's manufacturer recommended then that MD-80 operator conduct an every-flight check on the warning system.

But EASA says: "It has been found that some operators' procedures no longer reflect the initial intent of the recommendationas the check is performed less frequently."

The directive extends to McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 717 aircraft, owing to the similarity of their warning systems.

EASA is ordering amendments to the aircraft flight manual within 15 days of the directive's entry into force on 12 November.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news