Dana Air Flight 992
5N-RAM, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen here in Murtala Muhammed International Airport in 2009.
|Date||3 June 2012|
|Summary||Engine failure, subsequent pilot error leading to the crash|
|Fatalities||163 (all, including 10 on the ground)|
|Aircraft type||McDonnell Douglas MD-83|
|Flight origin||Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria|
|Destination||Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Nigeria|
Dana Air Flight 992 was a scheduled domestic commercial passenger flight from Abuja to Lagos, Nigeria. On Sunday, 3 June 2012, the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft operating the flight crashed into a furniture works and printing press building in the Iju-Ishaga neighbourhood of Lagos. The crash resulted in the deaths of all 153 people on board and 10 more on the ground. The crash of Flight 992 is the deadliest aviation disaster involving a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, as well as the second-deadliest involving an MD-80 series aircraft, behind Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 1308. It is also the second-deadliest aircraft crash on Nigerian soil, behind the Kano air disaster of 1973.
The aircraft was a twin-engined McDonnell Douglas MD-83, registered in Nigeria as 5N-RAM, built in 1990 and flew for Alaska Airlines until 2007 and was sold to another airline before being acquired by Dana Air in February 2009. The airframe had accumulated more than 60,000 hours of total flight time since new. The aircraft had over 55,000 and 26,000 hours of total flight time before the crash. The last maintenance on the aircraft was performed on 1 June 2012, two days before the accident.
Flight 992 took off from Abuja at 14:58 local time and was cleared for a flight level of FL260. At this point, the flight was still normal.
17 minutes after taking off from Abuja, the crew of Flight 992 noticed an abnormality on the left engine and started to discuss the problem. The Captain later stated that "we just want to get home". The First Officer then asked the Captain if he should call the Engineer to analyse the problem, however the Captain refused. The Captain stated that he and the First Officer could figure the cause of the problem by themselves, and declared that the Engineer's help was not needed.
The crew were trying to manage the situation they were facing. The Captain then asked the First Officer if one of the ground crews had tampered with the panel near the plane's rear door, and subsequently stated that "the guy" had problems and was pissed at them. The flight continued to Lagos and the crew continued to discuss the problem they were facing. They noticed that there were differences on the EPR value on the engines. The crew also noticed that there was no response from the left engine when they advanced the throttle lever, thus concluded that the left engine was inoperative. The crew decided to start their descent towards Lagos. As a failure on the left engine occurred, the crew should have looked at their Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) and followed procedures accordingly, but failed to do so.
The Captain then ordered the First Officer to increase Flight 992's rate of descent, however the First Officer refused, stating that the gradual descent was far more effective in order to maintain their height. The crew was then cleared by Lagos for an approach to Runway 18L. The crew later asked for clearance for an approach to Runway 18R and was subsequently cleared by Lagos ATC.
At 15:31 local time, the crew finally declared that there was no throttle response from either engine. As a result, the Captain took over the control from the First Officer. Even though the left engine of Flight 992's was inoperative, the crew didn't issue any emergency call at all. After the left engine failed, the right engine also started to fail, which was confirmed later by the crew. The crew then switched off several systems on the plane's engine, which were the engine anti – ice, ignition, and bleed – air. At the time, the Captain was still calm and didn't feel any emergency, stating “okay this one is good for us so far”.
At 15:35, the Captain stated that they will be investigated by the NCAA.
As the crew received several instructions of headings and radar vectors by the ATC, the crew started to worry about their condition. The crew then started their pre-landing tasks, including the deployment of the air brakes and the setting of the flaps and slats. Subsequently, the problem became compounded as thrust was required to continue the final approach.
The First Officer then asked the Captain if both engines were operative, which was replied by the Captain with "negative". Both engines failed to produce the commanded thrust. There was never any call for the checklist both normal and non-normal/emergency throughout the entire flight and there is no indication the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) was consulted.
At 15:41, the crew finally decided to declare an emergency on Flight 992 11 nautical miles (20 km) from the airport. and repeated the following messages until they were directed by ATC:
“Dual Engine Failure, negative response from throttles”.
The crew later selected for flaps 28. At the time, the situation seemed to be under control and the crew asked the passengers to prepare for landing.
A few minutes later, the "altitude" warning sounded, and the Captain stated that he had sighted the runway. The flaps were selected up and the crew selected the landing gears up. The Captain stated that he didn't want to stall the plane. The Captain then concluded that “we just lost everything, we lost an engine, I lost both engines”. And during the next twenty five seconds, the Captain requested for everything that could help recover thrust including “relight”, “ignition override” “just anything” to be given to him. The crew then applied stabilizer trim several times as they tried to avoid obstacles and buildings ahead of them, however their attempts were useless. The plane lost altitude rapidly and the altitude warning sounded until the end of the recording.
The MD-83 then crashed into a crowded neighbourhood near the airport, apparently landing on its tail, specifically an uncompleted building, two trees and three other ground structures. The tail detached from the plane, and the rest of the plane (the front part and the middle part) crashed into the building. The plane then exploded, consumed by its own 8.000 lbs fuel. Fire occurred throughout the neighborhood. The uncompleted building was storing flammable equipments as the building was revealed by officials as a press building. and causing a large fire.
The crash scene reportedly became chaotic, with The Sun reporting that thousands of Lagos residents attempted to approach the site. Crowds attempted to bring hoses to the site while soldiers attempted to disperse onlookers with punches and rubber whips. The onlookers then threw stones at the soldiers in retaliation. Water for firefighting was scarce for several hours due to the city's shortage of fire trucks, and civilians attempted to fight the fire by hand with water from plastic buckets. Water trucks commandeered from nearby construction projects had difficulties reaching the site due to the neighbourhood's narrow roads.
Passengers and crews
Flight 992 was carrying 147 passengers, including 15 foreigners from 9 countries. The foreigners, confirmed by the Nigerian AAIB, were 4 Chinese nationals, 3 Americans, 2 Indians, and one each from Indonesia, Lebanon, Germany, France, Canada and Benin. Nigerian press stated that a couple that had just married a few days prior to the accident was also on board the ill-fated flight. Local media also reported that several senior military officials were on board the flight, including three army generals.
Notable passengers include:
- Alhaji Ibrahim Damcida, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Industries.
- Dr. Livi Ajuonuma, Former broadcaster and NNPC General Manager, Corporate Affairs
- Shehu Saad Usman, Director Of Mainstreet Bank
- Aikhomu Ehime, son of former chief of General Staff Augustus Aikhomu
The Captain was Peter Waxtan, a 55-year old American with a total flying experience of 18,116 hours, in which 7,466 hours of them were on the MD-83. The Captain was hired by Dana Air on 14 March 2012. He began flying line training operations under the supervision of a training captain on 26 April 2012 after completing ground school and simulator training. He held several planes ratings, including the Airbus A320, McDonnell Douglas DC-9, Fokker F-27 and the Saab 340.
According to documents retrieved by the Nigerian AAIB, in 2009, the Captain was suspended by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for some misdemeanours related to a heavy landing and fixing of panels that were neither entered in the aircraft logbook nor reported. The revalidated licence issued to him by NCAA was stamped but not signed by any NCAA official. The AAIb added that there was no documented evidence that the crew performed the mandatory CRM training.
The First Officer, Mahendra Singh Rathore, was a 34 year old Indian with a total flying experience of 1,143 hours, in which 808 hours of them were on the MD-83. He was previously employed at Dana Air as the Director of Cabin Service before he was hired as a pilot in January 2011.
An autopsy was carried on the burnt victims by the former vice chancellor of Lagos State University and pathologist, Prof John Obafunwa who claimed to have successfully identified all of the dead. However, the Nigerian AAIB claimed that not every bodies were identified. At least 3 bodies could not be identified by forensic team.
Access to the site was initially limited by the fire and crowds, and later by strong winds and heavy rain. Rescuers also expressed concern that a damaged three-story apartment building might collapse on the crash site.
A Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee was set up by the federal government to investigate the accident.
Both the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) were recovered and handed over to Nigeria's Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB). Because the aircraft was American-made, the United States National Transportation Safety Board had observer status for the investigation. The FDR was found to have been too heavily damaged in the post-crash fire to yield any information, but 31 minutes of conversation were recovered from the CVR. The captain reported engine warning lights and then a twin engine failure during the approach, as the landing gear and flaps were extending.
On 3 June 2014 the AIB released a second interim statement on the investigation into the crash. The AIB stated: "Investigative reviews of the engine teardown especially the fuel systems are still ongoing. During this process a similar incident occurred on another MD 83 aircraft of Dana Airlines on 6 October 2013. AIB is currently investigating in-depth systematic and safety issues associated with this second incident vis-à-vis the crashed sister ship, 5N-RAM. The safety actions adopted by the operator to redress the findings are being monitored and analyzed."
Cause of dual engine failure
Nigerian AAIB examined both engines' fuel system components. Investigators revealed that the fuel feeder lines that attach to the No. 5 fitting (primary and secondary) were both fractured flush. These fractures caused fuel leak which explained why the engines went unresponsive even when the crew applied throttle movements on the lever.
On 13 March 2017, a 210-page final report by Nigeria's AIB into the crash was released and made public.
The investigation identified the following Probable Causal Factors:
1. Engine number 1 lost power seventeen minutes into the flight, and thereafter on final approach, Engine number 2 lost power and failed to respond to throttle movement on demand for increased power to sustain the aircraft in its flight configuration.3. Lack of situation awareness, inappropriate decision making, and poor airmanship
2. The inappropriate omission of the use of the Checklist, and the crew’s inability to appreciate the severity of the power-related problem, and their subsequent failure to land at the nearest suitable airfield.
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning. He noted that the accident had "sadly plunged the nation into further sorrow on a day when Nigerians were already in grief over the loss of many other innocent lives in the church bombing in Bauchi state". Jonathan also pledged that "every possible effort" would be made to boost the nation's aviation safety.
Dana Air set up a 24-hour hotline for relatives to call and added a message to its website reading "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of guests who were involved in the Dana Air mishap. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace".
The Federal Government seized the license and also banned the MD-83 aircraft type used by DANA Air after the crash. They also set up a nine-man technical and administrative panel that will audit all airlines operating in the country. On 5 September 2012, the suspension on Dana Air's operating license was lifted, and the airline started recertification and retraining processes.
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