, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28 – The pilot of the Kenya Airways plane that crashed in Cameroon in 2007 killing all 114 people on board took off without authorisation from air traffic controllers, an investigative report released on Wednesday shows.
Acting Transport Minister Amos Kimunya however said the report did not establish why the pilot of the Boeing 737-800 left without proper clearance.
“The report states that there was a lot of engagement between the control tower and the aircraft. There was no clearance but the converse of that is that there was also no reprimand of the take off. This balances out on probability the confusion could have been because of the lack of approval,” he said.
He said the report stated that the crew of the KQ flight 507 lost control and crashed approximately four nautical miles from Doula Airport in a swampy area, two minutes after takeoff during a thunderstorm.
The Minister said the crew of the KQ flight did not notice the plane was banking right and when he did he turned further right, triggering a downward spiral.
“The report states that the aircraft had no technical defects and the flight crew was qualified and appropriately licensed,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there was no eye witness account unlike in other regular accidents where eye witnesses can say what they saw, this (report) is now founded on a reconstruction based on the instruments on board and based on what the experts believe is the probability of what happened,” he added.
He explained that such an inquiry was not conducted with the goal of apportioning liability or determining individual or collective responsibilities. “Its sole objective is to draw lessons from the incident in order to prevent similar accidents in future,” he said.
The report also indicated that the pilot may have developed “spatial disorientation after a long slow roll.”
KQ Director of flight operations Paul Mwangi said that in the confusion, no instrument scanning was done.
“From the time the pilot checks in up to the time he completes the flight, scanning is a requirement whereby whatever change you make, you observe and each of you… because there are two pilots (the co-pilot and the captain) they call out,” Captain Mwangi said.
He said the spatial disorientation may have contributed to the failure by the pilots to do instrument scanning.
The government said it was satisfied that now there was documented evidence and that most of the recommendations made in the report had already been implemented.
“Through our participation in this investigation, and drawing experiences from other air accidents elsewhere, we have taken on board lessons learnt and applied them in improving aviation safety,” Mr Kimunya said.
Some of the investigation was conducted by the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing experts in the United States.
KQ Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said 92 percent of all claims had been paid and the remaining eight percent would be settled soon.
“In as far as we are concerned right now, all the routes that we are operating into whether in Europe, Asia or West Africa, at night or during the day are routes that have met our criteria so there is no particular concern that we have on the fact that we are flying at night to West Africa,” he assured.
KQ is Kenya’s flag carrier airline and operates scheduled services in parts of Africa, Europe and Asia.