SEVILLE AIR TRAGEDY

Power failures in three engines caused Airbus military plane crash in Seville

Company releases preliminary results from inquiry into May 9 accident that killed four

Firefighters at the scene of the Airbus A400M accident on May 9.
Firefighters at the scene of the Airbus A400M accident on May 9.EFE

Power failure in three engines was the cause of an Airbus A400M crash in Seville on May 9, which claimed the lives of four people and seriously injured two others, officials said Wednesday.

According to the results of a preliminary investigation released by Airbus Defence and Space in a statement on Wednesday, pilots were unable to get engines 1, 2 and 3 to respond because of a computer software malfunction in the military transport aircraft’s engine control unit (ECU), which prevented the plane from gaining sufficient speed during takeoff. Officials likened it to “a power freeze.”

The preliminary analysis has demonstrated that the rest of the systems on the plane were functioning normally”

Only the fourth engine responded adequately.

The A400M, which was undergoing tests at the time of the accident, crashed into an electricity pylon shortly after alerting air traffic control that it was experiencing problems. A witness said that “almost the entire plane turned into ash.”

The incident prompted several countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, to suspend the use of the A400M.

The engine control unit is part of the aircraft’s full authority digital engine control system (FADEC), the computer that controls the plane’s propulsion. On May 19, Airbus ordered inspections of the FADECs in its entire A400M fleet.

“The preliminary analysis has demonstrated that the rest of the systems on the plane were functioning normally and no other defects were detected during this flight,” the company said in a statement.

The conclusions, which have been turned over to the Spanish judge investigating the crash, were obtained with the help of the flight data and voice recorders and a preliminary review conducted by a team from the Defense Ministry’s Commission for Technical Investigations of Military Aircraft Accidents (CITAAM).

Airbus said the inquiry would continue and that “updates in the case will be released when new relevant information is available.”

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