Kenya Airways Flight 507

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Kenya Airways Flight 507
Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 5Y-KYA JNB Jan 2007.png
The accident aircraft is seen here at OR Tambo International Airport in 2007 (2007).
Accident
Date 5 May 2007
Summary Pilot error, spatial disorientation
Site Mbanga Pongo, in the Douala III subdivision, 5.42 km south (176°) of the end of Douala airport runway 12
3°57′04″N 9°44′02″E / 3.951°N 9.734°E / 3.951; 9.734Coordinates: 3°57′04″N 9°44′02″E / 3.951°N 9.734°E / 3.951; 9.734
Aircraft
Aircraft type Boeing 737-8AL
Operator Kenya Airways
Registration 5Y-KYA
Flight origin Port Bouet Airport
Last stopover Douala International Airport
Destination Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Passengers 108
Crew 6
Fatalities 114 (all)
Survivors 0

Kenya Airways Flight 507 was a scheduled AbidjanDoualaNairobi passenger service, operated with a Boeing 737-800, that crashed in the initial stage of its second leg on 5 May 2007, immediately after takeoff from Douala International Airport in Cameroon.[1][2][3]

The plane broke up into small pieces and came to rest mostly submerged in a mangrove swamp, 5.4 kilometres (3.4 mi) to the south (176°) of the end of Douala International Airport's runway 12.[4][5] There were no survivors.[4][6][7] The investigation by the Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority determined that the pilots failed to notice and correct excessive bank following takeoff. This led to the loss of control and crash of the aircraft.[8]

Aircraft[edit]

The aircraft involved in the accident, registration 5Y-KYA (serial number 35069), was a Boeing 737-8AL that was equipped with twin CFMI CFM56-7B26 powerplants.[9] The airframe first flew on 9 October 2006, and was delivered to Kenya Airways on 27 October.[10] The aircraft was six months old at the time of the accident.[11][12] It was one of three Boeing 737-800s Kenya Airways had recently acquired from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise.[4][13] The 52-year-old pilot in command—who had logged 8,500 hours on jetliners—and co-pilot (aged 23) had joined the airline 20 years and one year, respectively, before the accident.[14][15]

Crash[edit]

Flight 507 was one of three scheduled to depart from Douala Airport around midnight that day, with two other flights operated by Cameroon Airlines and Royal Air Maroc.[15][16][17] The aircrew of the Cameroonian and the Moroccan companies elected to wait for the weather to improve, while the Kenya Airways crew decided to depart, as they had already been delayed over an hour and the pilot felt that the weather had improved enough for departure.[15][18] The pilot in command nonetheless failed to seek takeoff clearance from the Airport Control Tower and the aircraft departed Douala at 00:06 local time on 5 May (23:06 UTC on 4 May);[18][19] the flight was due to arrive in Nairobi at 06:15 local time (03:15 UTC).[4][20][21]

Once airborne, the plane had a tendency to bank right, which the captain countered by using his control wheel.[22](p12) Twenty-four seconds after take-off, at an altitude of 1000 ft, the captain let go of the control wheel,[22](p12) and eighteen second later called out "Ok, command",[23][22](p13) indicating to the first officer to engage the autopilot. This command was not read back by the first officer confirming that he had acknowledged the command and neither was there audio confirmation in the cockpit indicating that the autopilot had been engaged. In the 55 seconds that followed, the aircraft was being piloted by neither pilot nor the autopilot. This led to it gradually increasing its banking angle from less than 1°, at the time the captain let go of the control wheel, to 34° when the bank angle warning came on. The captain may have panicked at the sound of the banking angle warning, as he made a series of movements on the control stick which only aggravated the situation further. He moved the control wheel first left, then 40° right, then 11° to the left. With the plane banking at 50°, a belated attempt was made to engage the auto-pilot. The captain then tried to bring the plane under control by using the right rudder, causing it to bank further to the right.[24] The first officer's actions further worsened the situation as he gave the control stick near opposite commands to what the captain had done. The captain, on noticing this, engaged the autopilot, but by then the plane was banked at nearly 115° to the right at 2290 ft altitude and was in an unrecoverable situation. It crashed into a mangrove swamp seconds later.

Contact with the plane was lost soon after takeoff from Douala.[12] Kenya Airways set up a crisis management center at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.[12][25]

The wreckage was discovered on 6 May in a swamp, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Douala, submerged under mud and water.[26][27] There were no survivors.[28][29] Furthermore, Kenya Airways Group managing director Titus Naikuni said in Nairobi that local people had led rescuers to the crash site.[21] Cameroon's Minister of State for Territorial Administration Hamidou Yaya Marafa told a news conference that day, "All I can say for now is that the wreckage of the plane has been located in the small village of Mbanga Pongo, in the Douala III subdivision. We are putting in place rescue measures."[30] Civil Protection Service of Cameroon's Director Jean-Pierre Nana claimed that "there are no chances that there will be any survivors because almost the entire body of the plane was buried inside the swamp".[7] Kenya Airways reported that 29 bodies had been recovered from the crash site, while reports from Cameroon claimed that over 40 had been recovered. Workers reported that the bodies were "badly disfigured" and that identification would be difficult. Heavy rains in the area continued to hamper all efforts.[31]

Passengers and crew[edit]

Kenya Airways disclosed a passenger list indicating that the 105 passengers on board were citizens of 26 different countries, most of them from Cameroon;[32] nine of the occupants were Kenyan.[21][33] Seventeen passengers boarded in Abidjan, while the rest did so in Douala.[4][33]

The six flight crew members were all Kenyan. An accompanying engineer and a deadheading flight attendant were among the passengers.[34]

The aircraft was piloted by Captain Francis Wamwea Mbatia who was the Pilot Flying on the flight at the time while the first officer was Andrew Kiuru and acted as the Pilot Monitoring the controls.[35][36]

Among the passengers on board was Anthony Mitchell, an Associated Press reporter based in Kenya.[37]

Nationality[22](pp15-16) Passengers Crew Total
 Burkina Faso 1 0 1
 Cameroon 37 0 37
 Central African Republic 2 0 2
 China 5 0 5
 Comoros 2 0 2
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 2 0 2
 Republic of the Congo 1 0 1
 Ivory Coast 6 0 6
 Egypt 1 0 1
 Equatorial Guinea 2 0 2
 Ghana 1 0 1
 India 15 0 15
 Kenya 3 6 9
 South Korea 1 0 1
 Mali 1 0 1
 Mauritius 1 0 1
 Niger 3 0 3
 Nigeria 6 0 6
 Senegal 1 0 1
 South Africa 7 0 7
 Sweden 1 0 1
  Switzerland 1 0 1
 Tanzania 1 0 1
 Togo 1 0 1
 United Kingdom 5 0 5
 United States 1 0 1
Total 108 6 114

Investigation[edit]

The Cameroonian government established a technical commission of inquiry to investigate the accident.[22] The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States sent a "Go-team" to assist with the investigation.[38]

Early attention as to the cause of the crash centred on the possibility of dual engine flameout during heavy weather. Several clues pointed in this direction, including the time the plane was in the air, the distress call issued by the aircraft (both later disputed), the meteorological conditions at the time of the crash, and the nose-down position of the wreckage. The investigators theorised that this would be consistent with the plane losing power in both engines, attempting to glide back to the airport, and stalling during the attempt.[39] Other experts theorised that lightning had played a role in the crash.[40]

The flight data recorder (FDR) was recovered on 7 May.[41][42] Kenya subsequently requested that the black box be analysed in Canada,[43] as Canada's bilingual nature would ease communications between it, French-speaking Cameroon, and English-speaking Kenya.[44] The analysis was completed on 30 May 2007, though the results of the analysis were not immediately disclosed because only Cameroon may release such data per the Convention on International Civil Aviation.[45]

On 12 May 2007, DNA testing of relatives of the victims began in Douala.[46] It was conducted in Bosnia, given the neutrality of the country regarding the nationality of the victims.[43]

The cockpit voice recorder took much longer to locate, as it was buried in 15 metres (49 ft) of mud, amidst the wreckage of the cockpit.[47] It was located on 15 June 2007 and prepared for transport to Canada for examination as the black box had been.[42][48]

The Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) released its final report of the crash on 28 April 2010.[8] The investigation found that the aircraft departed without receiving clearance from air traffic control. The captain, who was the flying pilot, corrected a right bank several times after takeoff. After 42 seconds of flight, the captain indicated that he had activated the autopilot. The autopilot did not engage, nor was the message acknowledged by the copilot. The pilots did not notice that the aircraft was increasingly banking to the right from 11° when the captain indicated that he had set the autopilot to 34° when a bank angle warning sounded 40 seconds later. The captain then activated the autopilot, but his inputs on the controls led to a further increase in the bank angle. The aircraft pitched nose down after it reached a height of 2,900 feet (880 m) with a 115° right bank. The two pilots used opposite and conflicting control inputs to attempt to recover the aircraft. The aircraft crashed at 287 knots (532 km/h; 330 mph), at 48° down pitch and 60° right bank 1:42 after take off.[22]

The CCAA determined the probable causes of the crash to be "loss of control of the aircraft as a result of spatial disorientation . . . after a long slow roll, during which no instrument scanning was done, and in the absence of external visual references in a dark night. Inadequate operational control, lack of crew coordination, coupled with the non-adherence to procedures of flight monitoring, confusion in the utilization of the autopilot, have also contributed to cause this situation."[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 15 June 2011.
  2. ^ Learmount, David (7 January 2008). "Accidents/incidents for 2007 – Fatal accidents: scheduled passenger flights". Flight International. Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  3. ^ McCrummen, Stephanie (6 May 2007). "Passenger Jet Disappears Over Cameroon". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Kaminski-Morrow, David (15 May 2007). "Investigators trawl swamps for clues on Kenya 737 crash". Flight International. London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Vogt, Heidi (8 May 2007). "Grim Work Continues at Plane Crash Site". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Aucun survivant dans le crash de l'appareil de Kenya Airways" [No survivors after the crash of a Kenya Airways plane]. Le Monde (in French). 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "No chance of survivors from Kenya plane – Cameroon". Reuters AlertNet. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007. 
  8. ^ a b Kaminiski-Morrow, David (28 April 2010). "Kenya 737 crash: Poor airmanship led to disorientation". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Final report, p.21
  10. ^ "Boeing 737 Next Gen – MSN 35069 – 5Y-KYA". Airfleets.net. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Kenya Airways Boeing 737 black box found". London: Flightglobal. 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 16 June 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Kaminski-Morrow, David (5 May 2007). "Kenya Airways Boeing 737 crashes in Cameroon". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 17 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Plane was one of KQ's newly acquired crafts". Sunday Times. 5 May 2007. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2007. 
  14. ^ Jotischky, Tim (18 March 2012). "The tragedy of Flight KQ507". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Reconstructing Flight 507's final moments". IOL. 11 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Reconstructing the last moments of Kenya Airways Flight 507". The Star. 12 May 2007. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Official: Cameroon crash probe turns to pilot". USA Today. Associated Press. 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Kamisnki-Morrow, David (27 June 2007). "No evidence of mechanical failure on crashed Kenya Airways Boeing 737". London: Flighgtglobal. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Final report, pp.8,11
  20. ^ "Kenya Air Jet Goes Down in Cameroon". The New York Times. Associated Press. 6 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c "'No survivors' in Cameroon crash". BBC News. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "Technical Investigation into the Accident of the B737-800 Registration 5Y-KYA Operated by Kenya Airways that Occurred the 5th of May 2007 in Douala" (PDF). Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority. 28 April 2010. p. 2/58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "What Really Happened on KQ Flight 507? - Owaahh". Owaahh. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-10-29. 
  24. ^ Jotischky, Tim (2012-03-18). "The tragedy of Flight KQ507". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-10-29. 
  25. ^ "Kenya plane 'crashes in Cameroon'". BBC News. 5 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Cameroon finds Kenya plane, no word of survivors". Reuters. 6 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  27. ^ Thomas, Geoffrey; Straus, Brian (8 May 2007). "Recovery operation beginning outside Douala for lost KQ 737". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  28. ^ "UPDATE 5-Cameroon finds Kenya plane, no word of survivors". Reuters. 6 May 2007. [permanent dead link]
  29. ^ Final report, p.15
  30. ^ "No survivors from Kenya plane: Cameroon". Brisbane Times. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "Flight KQ 507:29 bodies recovered". KBC. 8 May 2007. 
  32. ^ "6 Nigerians, 108 others feared killed in plane crash". The Punch. 6 May 2007. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  33. ^ a b "Full list of Passengers of Flight KQ 507" (Press release). Kenya Airways. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  34. ^ Official Report (English) Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine./Official Report (French) Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. (28 April 2010) – Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority. 15-16/58 (English: 15-16/89, French: 15-16/59). Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  35. ^ http://www.caa.co.za/Foreign%20Accidents%20and%20Incidents%20Reports/Cameroon%20Accident.pdf
  36. ^ "Tragedy of KQ 507". Daily Nation. Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  37. ^ Rice, Xan (7 May 2007). "Missing Britons named as plane's wreckage is found in Cameroon jungle". The Guardian. Nairobi. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  38. ^ "NTSB sending team to assist in the investigation of a 737 crash in Cameroon" (Press release). National Transportation Safety Board. 5 May 2007. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  39. ^ Associated Press (29 October 2007). "Engine failure probed in Kenyan crash". USA Today. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  40. ^ "Rescuers recover human remains at Cameroon crash site". Taipei Times. 9 May 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  41. ^ "Other News – 05/08/2007". Air Transport World. 9 May 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  42. ^ a b Final report, p.30
  43. ^ a b Kaminski-Morrow, David (5 June 2007). "Canadian investigators to analyse crashed 737 data". London: Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 17 June 2014. 
  44. ^ "Kenya: Govt Wants 'Black Box' Analysed in Canada". AllAfrica.com. The East African Standard. 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  45. ^ "Analysis of KQ 507's flight Flight Data Recorder complete". 30 May 2007. [dead link]
  46. ^ "KQ flight: DNA tests begin in Douala". 12 May 2007. Archived from the original on 17 May 2007. 
  47. ^ "KQ Resumes Cameroon Flights". 15 May 2007. 
  48. ^ "Kenyan flight KQ 507 – Cockpit voice recorder recovered". 18 June 2007. 

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