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Pilot error blamed for 2007 Kenya Airways crash

By the CNN Wire Staff
The aircraft crashed into a mangrove swamp shortly after taking off from Douala, Cameroon.
The aircraft crashed into a mangrove swamp shortly after taking off from Douala, Cameroon.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • All 114 people were killed when airliner went down over Cameroon in May 2007
  • Cameroon's Civil Aviation Authority blamed "spatial disorientation" on part of pilot
  • Report said he "reacted inappropriately in the face of the abnormal situation"
  • Crash occurred after "long slow roll, during which no instrument scanning was done"
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(CNN) -- The 2007 crash of a Kenya Airways flight in Cameroon that killed all 114 people on board was caused by pilot error, a report released on Wednesday said.

The flight, headed from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to Nairobi, Kenya, had made a scheduled stopover in the Cameroon city of Douala. It took off from Douala in stormy weather and crashed into a mangrove swamp shortly afterward, just after midnight on May 5, 2007.

The report, from Cameroon's Civil Aviation Authority, blamed "spatial disorientation" on the part of the pilot for the crash, saying he "reacted inappropriately in the face of the abnormal situation."

The pilot released the controls for 55 seconds as the plane was at 1,000 feet and climbing, the report said. The plane began to bank right, but the captain "appears unaware."

Just before a warning sounded, the captain grabbed the controls but appeared "confused" and instead of correcting to the left, he turned further right, increasing the bank and ultimately sending the plane into a spiral, the report said.

The crash occurred "after a long slow roll, during which no instrument scanning was done, and in the absence of external visual references in a dark night," the aviation authority said.

Kenya Airways said it was not disputing the report. But "unfortunately, there was no eyewitness account, unlike in other regular accidents, where eyewitnesses can say what they saw," said Chris Karanja, company spokesman. "The report is founded on a reconstruction based on the instruments on board and based on what the experts believe is the probability of what happened."

The report also blamed "inadequate operational control" and "lack of crew coordination," among other factors, for the crash. The first officer, it said, appeared cowed by the captain and did not "call out the lapses in piloting."

However, as the plane began a spiral dive, the first officer at first told the captain to turn right, before correcting himself and saying, "Left, left, left, captain," the report said.

"There were shortcomings in the way the crew worked as a team," the report said. It also noted that the plane took off without authorization from air traffic control.

Of the 114 people aboard, 37 were from Cameroon and 15 from India, the report said. One American also was on board. In all, passengers were from 26 nations.

CNN's David McKenzie contributed to this report.