Kenya Airways Crash Blamed On Pilot Actions

April 28, 2010

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Pilot error was the probable cause for the crash of a Kenya Airways 737 jet in Cameroon in May 2007 which killed all 114 people on board, a technical investigation has found.

The Boeing 737-800 plunged into a mangrove swamp on a stormy night minutes after taking off from Douala, the west African nation's largest city, en route to Nairobi.

"The airplane crashed after loss of control by the crew 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," said the report released by the Cameroonian authorities on Tuesday.

The crash report, compiled by the Cameroonian Civil Aviation Authority, found the pilot failed to notice the aircraft was banking slowly to the right as it gained altitude.

Just before a warning alarm sounded, the captain grabbed the control column making erratic movements and sending the jet into a steeper turn.

As the aircraft banked beyond 90 degrees, descending into a downward spiral, the first officer called out "Left, left, left captain," moments before the airliner hit the ground.

The airline, which is 26 percent owned by Air France-KLM, said it had reservations over the report's findings that the pilot had not properly engaged the autopilot after take off.

"One (reservation) is to do with the auto pilot, CRM (Crew Resources Management) and safety programme implementation," Titus Naikuni, the head of Kenya Airways, told reporters.

The report also said the Boeing flight manual did not include full information on the ability of the aircraft's autopilot to roll the plane to a safe degree of banking from a dangerous level.

(Reuters)