Saturday, August 1, 2020

Kenya Airways Flight 507

- Kenya Airways Flight 507 -

Kenya Airways Flight 507 was a scheduled Abidjan Douala Nairobi 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.

The plane broke up into small pieces and came to rest mostly submerged in a mangrove swamp, 5.4 kilometres (3.4 mi; 2.9 nmi) to the south (176°) of the end of 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 takeoff. This led to the loss of control and crash of the aircraft.


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. The airframe first flew on 9 October 2006, and was delivered to Kenya Airways on 27 October. The aircraft was six months old at the time of the accident. It was one of three Boeing 737-800s Kenya Airways had recently acquired from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise.


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. 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. 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) the flight was due to arrive in Nairobi at 06:15 local time (03:15 UTC).

Once airborne, the plane had a tendency to bank right, which the captain countered by using his control wheel. Twenty-four seconds after take-off, at an altitude of 1000 ft, the captain let go of the control wheel, and eighteen seconds later called out "Ok, command", indicating to the first officer to engage the autopilot. This command was not read back by the first officer indicating that he had not 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. 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 autopilot. The captain then tried to bring the plane under control by using the right rudder, causing it to bank further to the right. The first officer 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 less than two minutes after take off.

There were no communications between the aircraft and the ground after take-off. Kenya Airways set up a crisis management center at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

The wreckage was discovered on 6 May in a swamp, some 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Douala, submerged under mud and water. There were no survivors. Furthermore, Kenya Airways Group managing director Titus Naikuni said in Nairobi that local people had led rescuers to the crash site. 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." 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.

Passengers And Crew

Kenya Airways disclosed a passenger list indicating that the 105 passengers on board were citizens of 26 different countries; thirty-seven were from Cameroon; nine of the occupants were Kenyan. Seventeen passengers boarded in Abidjan, while the rest did so in Douala.

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

Captain Francis Mbatia Wamwea (aged 52)—who had logged 8,500 hours on jetliners and first officer Andrew Kiuru Wanyoike (aged 23) had joined the airline 20 years and one year, respectively, before the accident.

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

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