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McDonnell Douglas MD-83 Crash In Nigeria Claims More Than 150 Lives

Investigations Underway To Determine Cause Of Devastating Air Accident


Aviation lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed steps taken by the Nigerian government to ground flights by Dana Air following the devastating plane crash in the country which claimed the lives of 153 passengers on board and others on the ground.

The airline’s licence has been suspended as investigations continue into the incident on Sunday (June 3rd), which saw the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flying from Abuja come down in a suburb five miles north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

In the days since the incident, the Foreign Office has revealed that it is now believed that a dual British-Nigerian national may have been onboard the flight.

It is also reported that the crew onboard the flight reported engine trouble to the tower at the airport moments before the crash, but aviation experts at Irwin Mitchell who act for air accident victims in the UK and abroad stressed that it is too early to make conclusions and that the contents of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) will be crucial in providing an early indication as to what caused the crash.

Jim Morris, a Partner in the aviation law team and former RAF Boeing AWACS pilot, who specialises in  international aviation accident claims, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of all of those killed onboard and on the ground who will now be desperate to understand why this tragedy happened.  It is welcome news  to see precautionary measures have been taken as investigations continue but it is absolutely vital that there are prompt answers to assist the families come to terms with their losses and to improve the flight safety of MD-80 series operations.

“McDonnell Douglas, now part of the Boeing Company, manufactured the MD-83 from 1985 – 1999 and it is widely used around the world.  However, over its 27 years service the MD-80 series of aircraft have suffered a number of fatal accidents  -  recent examples are the One-Two-Go and Atlasjet crashes in Indonesia and Turkey in 2007 and the Spanair crash in Spain in 2008. 

“As such, it is vitally important that the investigating authorities determine quickly whether any fault with the aircraft caused or contributed to the accident, so that the safety of the MD-80 fleet can be ensured.  This will be particularly relevant if the reports of engine problems are correct.

“Additionally, the investigation will need to consider the other factors surrounding the flight, such as the weather conditions at the time, serviceability of the aircraft systems particularly flying controls, hydraulics and fuel, the aircraft maintenance and the actions of the pilots.  This will enable them to determine the chain of events that lead to this catastrophe, as the loss of an airliner is often due to series of events, actions or failures that culminate in the aircraft departing from controlled flight.

“Although air accident investigations do take time and the final report is not likely to be available for at least one year, we urge the authorities to publish a preliminary report on the contents of the CVR and FDR as soon as possible - preferably within 30 days - so that the aviation community can start learning from this accident.”