Dana Air Admits Engine Failure Mayday Call

June 8, 2012

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The operator of the airliner that crashed in Lagos on Sunday said on Thursday the pilot reported engine failure just before it went down, but it was not clear if one or two engines had failed.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-83, operated by privately owned domestic airline Dana Air, hit an apartment block, killing all 153 people on board and probably six people on the ground.

The airline had previously said only that the plane had no mechanical faults before the accident. Thursday's comments follow a statement by the aviation minister on Wednesday that both engines had failed.

"There was a mayday call for engine failure at 14:42 hours (13:42 GMT). We don't know if it was one or two," Oscar Wilson, Dana's director of flight operations, told a news conference. It was Nigeria's worst airline disaster for nearly two decades.

All the planes used by Dana have been tested to ensure they can fly on just one engine, in accordance with international norms, he said.

Iberia, owned by International Airlines Group, was in charge of maintenance, he said.

Wilson said inferring from the mayday call that the plane had crashed because both engines failed was "pure speculation".

"We don't know why it crashed. We cannot say the exact cause of the accident until the investigations are completed."

The government has set up panels to review the safety of all airlines in the country and suspended Dana Air's air license indefinitely.