Malware Possible Culprit in Spanair Crash

Malware may have been the cause of a fatal Spanair crash that killed 154 people in 2008.

The Spanair JK 5022 shortly after taking off from Madrid’s Barajas Airport on a scheduled flight to Las Palmas on Aug. 20, 2008. Only 18 survived the crash.

The airline’s central computer that registered technical problems on planes was infected by Trojans at the time of the crash, resulting in a failure to raise an alarm over multiple problems with the aircraft, according to Spanish daily El Pais. The plane took off with flaps and slats retracted, something that normally should have been noticed by the pilots during pre-flight checks or triggered an internal warning on the plane. In this case, neither happened.

A mechanic who checked the plane before take-off and an airport maintenance chief are being investigated and could face possible manslaughter charges. Investigating judge Juan David Perez has ordered Spanair to supply data on the state of its systems at the time of the crash. An investigation commission is due to report on the case by December.

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