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Spanair: No justification for changing jet before fatal crash

Spanish operator Spanair insists it did not plan to switch the Boeing MD-82 lost at Madrid for another aircraft following the crew's initial decision to return to the gate after detecting a technical problem.

The Spanish carrier says it holds, as a matter of standard practice, two or three standby aircraft at its main bases in order to ensure it can maintain schedules, particularly during the peak season.

Shortly after Spanair's ill-fated flight JK5022 started taxiing for take-off on 20 August, the crew returned to stand to check a problem with an external temperature probe.

Spanair says it advised personnel that, should a replacement aircraft be required, one was available.

But it points out: "After an initial technical assessment and an estimation of the time required to address the condition, the maintenance technicians concluded that it would not be necessary to swap the aircraft, as it was a minor repair that could take place in a period not exceeding 15 minutes."

Spanair says JK5022 was on stand for just 33min, it says. Changing the aircraft, adds the carrier, would have generated a delay of more than 60min.

Investigators into the flight's subsequent crash during take-off for the Canary Islands have yet to clarify whether there is any link between the technical issue and the loss of the aircraft.

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