Crash of Spanair MD82 on 20 August 2008

Date: 20 August 2008; Length: 2:10

Dr. Todd Curtis discusses the fatal event involving a Spanair MD82 which crashed in Madrid, Spain on 20 August 2008 shortly after taking off on a scheduled domestic flight to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. There were 162 passengers and 10 crew members on board, and 154 of the 172 occupants were killed.

Audio: Initial Report 20 August 2008

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Video Version of the Initial Accident Report

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Transcript of the Initial Podcast on 20 August 2008

Welcome to the Conversation at, with your host Dr. Todd Curtis.

This is show #62 - Crash of Spanair MD82 on 20 August 2008

The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff on a scheduled domestic flight from Madrid to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Early reports indicated that the left engine experienced a major malfunction during the takeoff. The aircraft was able to get airborne, but the crew set the aircraft down in a area to the right of the departure runway. The aircraft broke up and there was a severe post-crash fire.

There were 162 passengers and 10 crew members on board, and 153 of the 172 occupants were killed (one of the 19 initial survivors died three days after the crash). Among the passengers were 20 children and two infants. Both infants reportedly survived. Many of the 19 survivors suffered burns, some of them serious.

This was the first fatal event for Spanair, the second largest of the five airlines in the SAS group . At the end of June 2008, there were 65 aircraft in the Spanair fleet, averaging 13 years old. The fatal event aircraft was built in 1993.

This was the second fatal jet event for the SAS group, with the previous fatal event occurring on an SAS MD87 in Milan, Italy in 2001.

This was also a code share flight with Lufthansa, and that airline reported that seven of their passengers had transferred to the Spanair flight from a previous Lufthansa flight.

This was the 15th fatal event involving the MD80 series aircraft. Four fatal events have been in Europe, and four in the US. The aircraft began commercial operations in 1980, with the first fatal event in 1981. This latest crash was the eighth fatal MD80 event since 2000.

The Spanish Government is leading the investigation, with assistance from several US organizations, including the FAA, the NTSB, Boeing, and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

Additional information about this event, including updates or findings from the investigation, will be available at

Thanks for listening, and I'll see you next time.

Additional Resources
Fatal Events Since 1988 for Spanair
Fatal Events for the MD80 Series Aircraft
Other Podcast Episodes

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Crash of Spanair MD82 on 20 August 2008 -- Revised: 21 August 2008