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New questions raised over 2008 Spanair tragedy which claimed 72 Canary lives 

New questions are being raised about the Spanair tragedy at Madrid airport in 2008 amid claims that more lives could have been saved with a better emergency plan.

Only 18 passengers on Flight JK5022 survived the crash, with 154 people being killed in the fireball. An investigation later blamed human error and a technical fault.

Survivors and families are still pressing for what they regard as “unanswered questions” nine years on and are taking to the streets each month with protest marches. They say they have exhausted virtually every avenue of appeals but want a special commission of investigation to be set up.

Now, a new documentary has added weight to their arguments by suggesting the bulk of the blame should NOT be attributed to the two pilots, both of whom died.

The short film claims there was “a failure in communication” at Madrid airport in the first 15 minutes after the crash and questions the effectiveness of the emergency plan.

It is also being alleged there was “chaos” in the management centre and that not enough ambulances were called out.

The documentary took five years of investigations and is said to have discovered “new faults, negligence and irregularities that attenuate the possible responsibility of the two pilots”.

The plane was on its way to Gran Canaria when it crashed on take-off on August 20th. It was Spain’s most serious air disaster in three decades. Of those who died, 72 were from the Canaries.

The new film includes an interview with an airport technician who talks about the “agonising wait” for the rescue services and quotes an expert lawyer in aeronautics saying the court’s decision was based on “a technical fact that is not true”.

The short film was released at the International Film Festival of Lanzarote.

Spanish newspapers say it questions “irregularities” in the ruling of the Provincial Court of Madrid as well as “failures” in the emergency plan.

The Association of those Affected by Flight JK5022 says it will not comment on the documentary because it has not seen it but wants a new commission called for various other reasons, including question marks over the aircraft’s air worthiness certificate.

“The pilots are victims and they died in the accident but they cannot defend themselves,” says its president, Pilar Vera.

Families say they will continue their protest marches on the 20th of every month until they get action. They say the deaths should never have happened in the first place but want to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.

Official investigators found that the flight crew failed to extend the aircraft’s wing flaps and slats when it took off but an automatic warning system did not go off.