During the night of 04th May 2007, the B737-800, registration 5Y-KYA, operating as Kenya Airways flight KQA507 from Abidjan international airport (Cote d’Ivoire), to the Jorno Kenyatta airport Nairobi (Kenya), made a scheduled stop-over at the Douala international airport. The weather was stormy. Shortly after take off at about 1000 ft, the aircraft entered into a slow right roll that increased continuously and eventually ended up in a spiral dive.
On the 5th May 2007 at approximately 0008 hrs, the airplane crashed in a mangrove swamp South-SouthlEast of Douala.
All 114 occupants on board Kenya Airways flight KQA507 were killed and the airplane was completely destroyed.
Events after takeoff :
0006:09: The landing gear is retracted. As soon as the airplane is airborne, it has a net tendency to roll to the right; the pilot reacts immediately by input of 300 of left roll on the control wheel, and then turns the wheel back to the neutral position and continues to modulate left control wheel to maintain wings level. The bank angle of Kenya Airways flight KQA507 stays within the limit of 3° right.
The captain continues to make inputs on the flight controls, (roll), to the left between 500 and 1000 ft; the tendency of the airplane to roll to the right is controlled and bank angle remains at less than 1°, During the same period, several inputs on the pitch trim for nose up attitude are also apparent.
0006:24: At about 1000 ft climbing, all action on the flight controls ceases till 0007:19.
0006:26: The Captain calls HDG SEL, and the FO responds: “select checked”.
The FDR indicates:
- Altitude : 1140 ft
- Heading: 118°
- Pitch: +15°
- Speed: 164 kts
- Bank angle: less than 1°
0006:27: The HDG SEL knob is moved from 118 to 132°. At the same time the roll to the right recommences.
0006:28.8: The captain says: “I will keep somewhere around here”
0006:33: The HDG SEL knob is moved from 132 to 139°. The roll command bar of the flight director again moves to the right. The FDR indicates:
- Altitude: 1300 ft.
- Heading: increasing.
- Pitch: +10°
- Speed: 175 kts.
- Bank angle : 6° right
- Flaps : down, 5°
0006:40.8 : Climb power is selected, FO calls “N1”. The roll command bar of the flight director starts moving to the left.
The FDR indicates :
- Altitude : 1600 ft
- Heading : 127°
- Pitch : +11°
- Speed : 182 kts
- Bank angle : 11° right
- Flaps : down 5°
00:06:41.8: The Captain of Kenya Airways flight KQA507 calls: “OK COMMAND” ; The FO does not respond. The FDR indicates several inputs on the pitch trim for nose up, due to the speed trim system; The autopilot is not engaged.
0006:45.1: The FO requests: “I remain on legs?” The Captain responds “Yup”
0006:49: The roll command bar of the flight director moves to the left. The FDR indicates:
- Heading: passing 139°.
- Bank angle: 15°, right.
0006:55: The HDG SEL knob is moved to the left from 139 to 120°.
The roll to the right continues, and reaches 20° bank angle .
0006:59: The FO initiates change of altimeter setting. Both pilots execute the change and mutually verify it. The FDR indicates:
- Pressure altitude: 2400 ft.
- Pitch: +10°.
- Speed: 180 kts.
0007: 05.8: The Captain says: “Now we are getting into it” and the FO responds: “O.K” .
0007:09.5: The FO of Kenya Airways flight KQA507 calls: “I continue with heading?”. The HDG SEL knob is moved right from 120 to 165°.
The FDR indicates:
- Pressure altitude: 2600 ft.
- Heading: 190°
- Pitch: +7°
- Speed: 190 kts.
- Bank angle: 24°, right.
- Flaps: down 5°
0007: 12.2: The Captain says: “through here is OK, isn’t it?” The FO responds; “OK” .
0007:18.2 The Captain exclaims.
The FDR indicates :
- Pressure altitude : 2700 ft.
- Heading 215°
- Pitch : +8°.
- Speed: 200 kts.
- Bank angle: 34° right.
- Flaps: down 5°.
- Flight Controls: in neutral position
- Autopilot: not engaged.
- HDG SEL: 165°.
- Flight Director roll command bar : at extreme left position.
0007: 19: The bank angle aural warning sounds: “BANK ANGLE“. The roll control wheel is immediately turned 22° to the right, then 20° to the left, again 45° to the right and finally 11° to the left. The bank increases rapidly to the right.
0007:23: At 2770 ft, without any call, the “CMD A” mode of the autopilot CAP is engaged; Action on the flight controls decreases. Some action on the right rudder pedal is perceptible. The bank angle, which reaches 50°, tends to stabilize.
The bank angle of Kenya Airways flight KQA507 increases continuously by itself very slowly up to 34 degrees right and the captain appears unaware of the airplane’s changing attitude.
0007:28: Intense action on the flight controls resumes; first roll movement to the right, then to the left and again to the right. Several bursts of rudder inputs are made to the right. The Captain announces “we are crashing”. The FDR indicates:
- Altitude: 2800 ft.
- Pitch angle: +5°.
- Speed: 220 kts.
- Bank angle: 55° to the right and increasing rapidly.
0007:29: Uncoordinated movements of the flight controls increase, coupled with bursts of right rudder applications .The FO confirms: “right, yeah we are crashing right”. The bank angle reaches 70° to the right
0007;31: Prolonged pressure on the right rudder pedal is perceptible while the roll control wheel is moved from left to right and then completely to the left. The FDR indicates:
- Pressure altitude: 2900 ft and decreasing rapidly
- Heading: 290°
- Pitch angle: minus 3°
- Speed: 220 kts.
- Bank angle: 80° to the right, and increasing rapidly.
The F/O calls out to the Capta in to level the wings by the right, then quickly correct himself and says with insistence “Left, Left, Left captain ” ..
0007:33 : the FO calls “Right Captain, Left, Left, ###***” : the DFDR indicates :
- Pressure altitude : 2700 ft, in a dive.
- Heading 330°
- Bank angle : 90° to the right.
0007:35: The bank angle reaches 115°, then decreases towards 70°, following full left roll input on the control wheel.
- The altitude is 2500 ft.
- The heading reaches 360°.
- Other bursts of left roll inputs on the control wheel and some pressure on the right rudder pedal are perceptible.
0007:40: The altitude is 1300 ft. Bank angle is 70° The speed is 270 kts
0007:42: Kenya Airways flight KQA507 crashes with speed of 287 kts, a pitch angle of minus 48°, heading 090°, and 60° right bank angle.
The airplane crashed after loss of control by the crew as a result of spatial disorientation (non recognized or subtle type transitioning to recognized 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 AP, have also contributed to cause this situation.