An airliner apparently ran off a Norwegian airport runway and burst into flames, killing four, last week because wing spoilers crucial to braking did not deploy, crash investigators said Tuesday.
The spoilers aid braking by reducing the lift of the wings and giving the aircraft's wheels better traction, the Norwegian Accident Investigation Board said.
The British Aerospace 146-200, operated by Atlantic Airways of the Faeroe Islands, ran off the runway and down an embankment before catching fire at western Norway's Stord Airport on Oct. 10. Twelve of the 16 people aboard escaped without serious injury.
The board said the wing spoilers, or air brakes, are activated by the pilot on BA146-200 aircraft, but that indicator lights confirming their operation failed to light.
"This type of plane is a little different that other airplanes because it does not reverse its engines for braking, but is completely dependent on air braking, or spoilers," Grete Myhre said.
She said it was too early in the investigation to pinpoint the cause of the failure.
A board news release said that, without spoilers, "lift from the wings combined with a damp runway caused steamy water under the main wheels, and the braking power needed was gone."
"The crew did not find it responsible to abort the landing, in a last attempt to stop, they steered the aircraft down an incline," the statement said.
The preliminary findings were based on witness interviews, wreckage and flight recorder details.
The airplane was chartered by a subsidiary of engineering group Aker Kvaerner to transport workers to an oil industry construction project.
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