Kenya Airways Flight 431

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Kenya Airways Flight 431
Kenya Airways A310-300 5Y-BEN LHR 1994-8-5.png
5Y-BEN, the aircraft involved in the accident in a previous livery, on final approach to London Heathrow Airport in 1994
Date30 January 2000
SummaryElectrical fault combined with pilot error
SiteOff the coast of Côte d'Ivoire
05°13′33.3″N 03°56′11.7″W / 5.225917°N 3.936583°W / 5.225917; -3.936583Coordinates: 05°13′33.3″N 03°56′11.7″W / 5.225917°N 3.936583°W / 5.225917; -3.936583
Aircraft typeAirbus A310-304
Aircraft nameHarambee Star
OperatorKenya Airways
IATA flight No.KQ431
ICAO flight No.KQA431
Call signKENYA 431
Flight originFélix-Houphouët-Boigny Int'l Airport
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
StopoverMurtala Muhammed Int'l Airport
Lagos, Nigeria
DestinationJomo Kenyatta Int'l Airport
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya Airways Flight 431 was an international scheduled AbidjanLagosNairobi passenger service. On 30 January 2000, the Airbus A310-300 serving the flight crashed into the sea off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, shortly after takeoff from Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport, Abidjan.[1] There were 179 people on board, of whom 169 were passengers. Only ten people survived in what was the first fatal accident for Kenya Airways and the deadliest crash involving the Airbus A310.[2]

Aircraft and pilots[edit]

The aircraft involved in the accident was an Airbus A310-304, registration 5Y-BEN,[1] named Harambee Star.[2] With c/n 426, the airframe entered service with Kenya Airways in September 1986 (1986-09). The aircraft had logged 58,115 flight hours at the time of the accident. It was powered by two GE CF6-80C2A2 engines. The port and starboard engines' serial numbers were 690,120 and 690,141, respectively; before the crash, they had accumulated 43,635 and 41,754 flight hours, respectively.[1]

The flight was under the command of 44-year-old Captain Paul Muthee,[3] an experienced officer who had logged 11,636 flying hours at the time of the accident, 1,664 on an Airbus A310. He qualified as an A310 pilot on 10 August 1986, and also held ratings for Boeing 737-300, Boeing 737-200, Fokker 50 and Fokker 27, as well as various small aircraft. The first officer was 43-year-old Lazaro Mutumbi Mulli,[3] who had 7,295 hours of flight time, 5,768 in an A310. Both pilots had performed four landings and four takeoffs on the type at Abidjan Airport; their last takeoff from the airport took place on the day of the accident. First officer Mulli was the pilot flying on the accident flight.[1]

The airframe was completely destroyed by the impact.[1]


The flight originated in Nairobi as Flight KQ430, and was due to land in Abidjan after a stopover in Lagos.[2] Many Nigerians who travelled to Dubai for duty-free shopping used this flight.[4] On this day, after being held over Lagos, the flight continued directly to Abidjan because of poor local weather conditions.[1][5][6] More specifically, harmattan winds blowing southwards from the Sahara made skies over Lagos unusually hazy on that day, and all incoming flights at Lagos Airport were halted.[7][8] After a three-hour layover, the plane took off for Lagos at 21:08 GMT. However just seconds after takeoff, at the moment when first officer requested the landing gear to be retracted, the stall warning sounded in the cockpit. The landing gear remained down. In response, the crew put the aircraft into a controlled descent. The first officer told the captain to silence the stall warning. The Ground proximity warning system (GPWS) then sounded briefly, though the radio altimeter sent out warnings seconds after, cutting off the GPWS warning. The master warning then sounded indicating that the aircraft was overspeeding, at which point the captain shouted, "go up," but the aircraft was descending too quickly to recover. The aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi; 1.1 nmi) east of the airport, off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire.[7] After the accident, the airline set up a crisis centre at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi.[6][9]

This was Kenya Airways' first fatal accident.[10][11]

Passengers and crew[edit]

There were 169 casualties, out of 179 people on board the aircraft.[1] Most of the passengers and crew were reported to be Nigerians.[12][13] Two of the crewmembers on board worked for KLM.[12] The 168 people who lost their lives whose nationalities are known came from 33 countries; the nationality of one additional deceased victim was not determined. Following is a list of the nationalities of the deceased:[1]

Nationality Number
Nigeria 84
Kenya 20
India 8
"Congo" (specific country undisclosed) 5
Uganda 5
Madagascar 4
Senegal 3
Togo 3
Canada 2
Ivory Coast 2
Ethiopia 2
France 2
Ghana 2
Iran 2
Mali 2
Netherlands 2
Philippines 2
Rwanda 2
United States 2
Zambia 2
Belgium 1
Burkina Faso 1
Burundi 1
Chad 1
Gambia 1
Guinea 1
Ireland 1
Liberia 1
Mauritania 1
Spain 1
Tanzania 1
Zimbabwe 1
Undetermined 1
Total (33 nationalities) 169

Powerboat operators and fishermen extracted at least seven of the survivors from the water. Of those survivors, three were Nigerians, one was a Kenyan, one was a Gambian, one was an Indian, and one was a Rwandan. One survivor, a Frenchman, swam almost 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the shore.[9][14][15] Of the 12 initial survivors, two died in the hospital. Of the ten ultimate survivors, nine received serious injuries and one received minor injuries. Four survivors received first-degree burns from contact with jet fuel in the water.[1] The entire crew of ten died in the accident.[1]

The University Hospital Medical Center at Treichville in Abidjan examined the deceased. The center identified 103 of the bodies and was unable to identify the other 43. Of the deceased, the following causes of death were established: 108 died from serious poly-traumatic injuries, 22 died from a combination of drowning and serious poly-traumatic injuries, and 15 died solely from drowning. The hospital could not determine the injuries sustained by one of the 146 bodies. According to the autopsy reports, a violent deceleration or a twisting or cutting action resulted in the injuries. Forty-three of the deceased received first-degree burns due to contact with the jet fuel spilled in the water. The pilots died from poly-traumatic injuries; they also received first-degree burns from the jet fuel.[1]

As of December 2019, the accident is the deadliest involving the Airbus A310.[2]


Seating chart of flight 431 showing locations of survivors and equipment

The Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA), the accident investigation authority of France, assisted in the search for the flight recorders.[1] The Transportation Safety Board of Canada analysed the flight safety recorders.[1] The Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire published the original French-language accident report. The BEA published its English version of the report.[1]

The sequence of events was as follows:

  1. An errant stall warning sounds immediately after takeoff.
  2. The pilot puts the aircraft into a descent.
  3. The crew does not apply maximum engine power.
  4. The ground proximity warning does not sound because the stall warning takes precedence.
  5. Overspeed warning sounds.
  6. The Captain gives the order to climb.
  7. The aircraft collides with the sea.

The report noted that taking off after dark, towards the sea, the pilots lacked visual references, and recommended that for crews of aircraft in which false stall warnings are likely, type rating and later training should include ways to recognise and manage such false warnings when close to the ground.[1]


Kenya Airways compensated the families of 60 deceased Nigerians; each family received US$130,000 (equivalent to $187,707 in 2019).[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "REPORT – Accident which occurred on 30 January 2000 in the sea near Abidjan Airport to the Airbus 310–304 registered 5Y-BEN operated by Kenya Airways" (PDF). Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 9 June 2011.
  3. ^ a b Deléan, Michel (25 September 2010). "Kenya Airways bientôt mis en examen" [Kenya Airways soon indicted]. Le Journal du Dimanche (in French). Archived from the original on 11 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Over 100 feared dead after Kenyan jet crash". The Guardian. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Rescuers seek more survivors of Kenya Airways crash". CNN. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 20 May 2005. Retrieved 18 September 2005.
  6. ^ a b "Anguish of air crash families". BBC News. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  7. ^ a b Fisher, Ian (1 February 2000). "10 of 179 Survive Kenya Airbus Crash in the Atlantic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 27 October 2013.
  8. ^ Simmons, Ann M. (1 February 2000). "Scores of Bodies Found After Africa Crash". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b Vick, Karl (1 February 2000). "A Grim Search at African Jet Crash Site; Ten Survivors Rescued, Scores of Bodies Recovered in Ivory Coast Waters". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Airline's sound safety record". BBC News. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Airbus' reliability record". BBC News. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Rescuers seek more survivors of Kenya Airways crash". CNN. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 20 May 2005. Retrieved 18 September 2005.
  13. ^ "Kenyan plane crashes into sea". BBC News. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Un miraculé de l'Airbus kenyan raconte: «Je me suis retrouvé dans l'eau, tête en bas»" [A miraculous survivor from the Kenyan Airbus says: "I ended up in the water, upside down"]. Le Temps (in French). 1 February 2000. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Survivor's swim to safety". BBC News. 31 January 2000. Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Kenya Air crash victims win compensation". IOL. Lagos. AFP, SAPA. 24 April 2001. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014.

External links[edit]