Preliminary report issued over Nigeria plane crash
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — A commercial airliner that crashed last month in Nigeria's largest city, killing more than 150 people onboard and others on the ground, lost both engines within sight of the airport, according to a preliminary reported released Thursday.
The report released by Nigeria's Accident Investigation Board suggests mechanical problems doomed the Dana Air MD-83 coming into Lagos from the capital, Abuja.
But finding a true cause for the crash likely will be hindered because the report says one of the aircraft's black boxes melted in the intense fire that engulfed the plane after it slammed into a residential neighborhood about five miles north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport on June 3.
The crash killed 153 people onboard the flight and 10 others on the ground, the report said. The number of those killed on the ground when the plane crashed into the Lagos neighborhood of Iju-Ishaga remains in dispute, in part because of people wanting to claim compensation from the crash.
The airplane's cockpit voice recorder captured 31 minutes of conversation between the two pilots, the report said. The recording begins with the pilot and first officer talking about an engine indicator light and the engine's throttle setting, a problem that began worrying them more as the plane approached Lagos, the report said.
As the plane's flaps and landing gear came out approaching the airport, the engines failed, the report said. The pilot saw the runway and tried to keep the plane in the air, though the situation only grew worse.
"We just lost everything," pilot Peter Waxtan, a U.S. citizen, said, according to the report. "We lost an engine. I lost both engines."
The plane crashed moments later. The fire and crash devoured about 85 percent of the plane, the report said, including a recorder that monitored the airplane's mechanical systems, further complicating the investigation. The report said fuel used by the aircraft had no containments, though more tests will be done.
Dana Air has been grounded since the crash, which raised new worries about aviation safety in Nigeria, a nation with a history of other fatal crashes.