Suppose that M is a closed, connected and smooth manifold of dimension n = 8k + 5, with k ≧1. Let η be an n-plane bundle over M. Under suitable conditions on M, we derive necessary and sufficient conditions for the span of η to be ≧j, j = 5 or 6. We then apply the results to the tangent bundle of M. In particular, we prove a conjecture of E. Thomas, namely, if M is 3-connected mod 2, then span M ≧ 5 if, and only if, χ2(M) = 0. We prove that if also w8k(M) = 0, then span M≧6. We also derive some immersion theorems for M.