Kenya Airways Flight 507
|Date||5 May 2007|
|Type||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 (approx. )|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-8AL|
|Flight origin||Port Bouet Airport|
|Last stopover||Douala International Airport|
|Destination||Jomo Kenyatta International Airport|
Kenya Airways Flight KQ 507, a Boeing 737-800, from Douala International Airport in Douala, Cameroon, to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, crashed on 5 May 2007. The flight originated from Port Bouet Airport in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, but made a stop in Douala to pick up more passengers. It departed Douala at 0005 GMT (0105 local time) on 5 May. It had been scheduled to arrive in Nairobi at 0315 GMT (0615 local time).
Kenya Airways has released a passenger list indicating that the 105 passengers on board were citizens of 26 different countries; none of them were Kenyan. The entire 9-member crew were from Kenya. 17 passengers boarded in Abidjan while the rest boarded in Douala.
The plane broke up into small pieces and came to rest mostly submerged in a forested swamp, 5.42 km to the south (176°) of the end of the Douala International Airport's runway 12. There were no survivors. The investigation by the Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority determined that the pilots failed to notice and correct excessive bank following take-off. This led to the loss of control and crash of the aircraft.
After the crash, the flight route designation was changed to Flight KQ 504 for flights between Douala and Nairobi with the same aircraft type.
Flight 507 was one of three flights scheduled to depart Douala airport around midnight on May 5. It was being flown using one of three 737-800s that Kenya Airways had recently acquired from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise. The airframe first flew on October 9, 2006 and was delivered from Boeing later that month.
The aircrews of the other two flights, Cameroon Airways and Royal Air Maroc, elected to wait for the weather to improve, while the Kenya Airways crew, perhaps because they had already been delayed over an hour, elected to take off. Contact with the plane was lost soon after takeoff from Douala; it did not report in upon reaching 5,000 feet as was procedure. The control tower may have received a distress signal from the aircraft before the loss of contact; later reports contradicted the statement. Kenya Airways set up a crisis management center at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
On 6 May 2007, Cameroon's state radio interrupted broadcasts to report that wreckage of the plane had been found near Mvengue, southwest of the capital Yaoundé, only to say later it could not confirm the report.
Later that day Kenyan Airways officials reported that the wreckage of the aircraft had been found 5.42 kilometres south (176°) of the end of the airport's runway 12, some 120 kilometres from the site mentioned in the earlier radio broadcasts. Initial reports from the crash site did not mention survivors.
"We are told the aircraft was covered by a canopy of trees, and that was the delay in sighting the crash site," he said.
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."
On 8 May Kenya Airways reported that 29 bodies had been recovered from the crash site while reports from Cameroon reported that over 40 had been recovered. Workers reported that the bodies are "badly disfigured" and that identification would be difficult. Heavy rains in the area continued to hamper all efforts.
Early attention as to the cause of the crash had centered on the possibility of dual engine flameout during heavy weather. Several clues had pointed in this direction including the time the plane had been 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. Experts theorized 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. Other experts theorized that lightning had played a role in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States sent a go-team to assist with the investigation.
On 8 May 2007 "Kenya Airways chief pilot James Ouma told a news conference in Nairobi that Kenyan investigators believe the jet crashed about 30 seconds after takeoff. Officials in Cameroon had said earlier that they lost contact with the jet 11-13 minutes into the flight."
On 12 May 2007, DNA testing of relatives of the victims began in Douala.
The flight data recorder was recovered, and Kenya subsequently requested that the "black box" be analyzed in Canada, not the US or Europe. The reason stated was the ongoing "conflict" between Boeing vs. Airbus in the global airliner marketplace. Kenya also stressed that Canada's bilingual nature would ease communications between it, French-speaking Cameroon, and English-speaking Kenya. The analysis did take place in Canada and was completed on May 30, though the results of the analysis were not immediately disclosed because only Cameroon may release such data per the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
The cockpit voice recorder took much longer to locate, as it was buried in 15 meters of mud, amidst the wreckage of the cockpit. But it was eventually located on 16 June 2007 and prepared for transport to Canada for examination as the FDR had been.
On 29 June 2007 an article appeared in the which said that the pilots had been exonerated from blame in the crash. The article did not state who had exonerated them or why. The article also said that examination of the DFDR had shown no mechanical failures on the plane, implied that weather was the sole reason for the crash, and that the CVR had not yet been recovered, despite widespread reporting 13 days earlier that it had been.
As of 22 April 2008, Kenya Airways said it has yet to be provided any report about cause of the crash by investigators.
The Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) released its final report of the crash on 28 April 2010. The investigation found that the aircraft departed without receiving clearance from Air Traffic Control. The captain, who was the flying pilot, corrected right bank several times after take-off. After 42 seconds of flight, the captain gave a command indicating that he activated the autopilot. However the autopilot did not actually engage, nor was the command 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 lead to a further increase in the bank angle. The aircraft pitched nose-down after it reached a height of 2900 feet with 115° right bank. The two pilots used opposite and conflicting control inputs to attempt to recover the aircraft. The aircraft crashed at 287 knots at 48° down pitch and 60° right bank 1:42 after take off.
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."
Nationalities of the victims
The six flight crew members were all Kenyans. The passengers included an accompanying engineer and a deadheading flight attendant.
|Pre-accident pictures of the aircraft|
- Cameroon Civil Aviation Authority
- "Technical Investigation." (English)/(French)
- "DECLARATION OF THE MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTER OF TRANSPORT."
- Wadem, Joël. "Crash de Kenya airways: l'enquête se poursuit." (French)
- Galabe, Mirielle. "Mbanga Pongo: Les circonstances du crash demeurent un mystère." (French)
- Kenya Airways website information
- NTSB Factual Report (PDF)
- Reconstructing the last moments of Kenya Airways Flight 507 11 May 2007 IHT
Retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya_Airways_Flight_507