Aircraft type Boeing 737-200
Date 22 October 2005
Total fatalities 117 (all)
Crew count 6
Operator Bellview Airlines
Passenger count 111
|Site Lisa, Ogun State, Lagos, Nigeria|
Flight origin Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos
Destination Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
Similar Kam Air Flight 904, 2005 Equatorial Express, Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145, Mandala Airlines Flight 91, Southwest Airlines Flight 1248
Bellview Airlines Flight 210, was a scheduled domestic passenger flight, operating as a Boeing 737-200 aircraft from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos en route to the Nigerian capital Abuja. On 22 October 2005, the plane nose dived and crashed at Lisa Village, Ogun State, killing all 117 people on board. The records obtained by the Associated Press (AP) showed that the captain of a Bellview Airlines flight that crashed had gone back to work as a pilot despite being shot in the head years before. And in another case, a pilots' manual included blank pages instead of key safety information, the investigation further revealed.
Though officials now say air travel is much safer, the documents add to worries about flights in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people where graft and incompetence often dominate government and where the demand for air travel has spiked over the last five years. A report on the crash showed the plane nose-dived into the ground at high speed. Investigators reportedly found only human remains that were "nothing bigger than toes and fingers," the report read. The plane's captain, a 49-year-old former pilot, had been hired by Bellview after he had been working at a dairy for about 14 years, the summary read. The pilot also had been "shot in the head during a robbery attempt" during that break from flying, the report said.
The cause of the crash was never determined. The crash caused the U.S to criticise the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria(FAAN) as they failed to enforce safety regulations and oversight.
Flight 210 was a scheduled passenger flight from Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. The flight departed Lagos at night, on 20:35, as the aircraft entered a right turn tower controller told the crew to contact the approach controller. The Approach Control replied "report again passing one three zero." The pilot acknowledged at 19:32:35 UTC, and that was the last known transmission from the flight. The approach controller told the crew to next report passing 13,000 feet or when crossing the LAG beacon, this last contact was at 20:36. The pilot of Bellview Airlines Flight 210 sent a distress signal just after taking off from Lagos for the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in stormy weather at 20:45 (1945 GMT).
The approach controller tried to contact Flight 210 at 20:46 but had no response. An alert was raised with the National Emergency Management Agency to start a search and rescue operation. The plane was first reported found on Sunday morning by a police helicopter search team near the rural town of Kishi, Oyo state, 400 km (320 miles) from Lagos. It was suggested 50 people might have survived. But officials later retracted statements about the plane's location and survivors after a TV crew said it had found the aircraft near the village of Lissa in Ogun state, about 50 km (30 miles) from Lagos.
Images of mangled bodies, twisted chunks of metal and ripped luggage were broadcast. The vegetations and cash crops at the crash site were destroyed. The impact crater covered a large area and measured 57 feet by 54 feet and 30 feet deep. The National Emergency Management Agency said on Sunday afternoon that the plane had crashed and burst into flames in swampland north of Lagos. Spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye told AFP news agency that the plane hit the ground with such speed it was partly buried under ground. No-one on the plane would have lived after the initial impact, he said. Nigerian Red Cross officials confirmed no sign of survivors had been found at the scene. All 117 on board had been killed and the aircraft was destroyed.
Passengers and crew
The plane was carrying 111 passengers and 6 crews. Most of them were thought to be Nigerians, with at least 10 were Ghanaians and one U.S citizen. There were many notable people on the flight:
The cockpit crews are:
The aircraft was a twin-engined Boeing 737-2B7 registered in Nigeria as 5N-BFN. The aircraft had manufacturers serial number 22734 and been built in 1981 and first delivered to Maersk Air before acquired by the airline. The aircraft had flown more than 56,000 hours to the point of the crash. The aircraft was manufactured in 1981 and entered the Nigerian Register on 21 March 2003. Inspections were carried out in accordance with Approved Maintenance Programme at the facility of Royal Air Maroc, Morocco between 28 December 2004 and 12 February 2005.
The last check was performed on the aircraft by Bellview Airlines Engineers in Lagos was in October 2005. Review of the engine records showed that engine no.1 was last overhauled in August 2004 and installed on the aircraft in October 2004 while engine no.2 was last overhauled in May 2005 and installed on 13 September 2005.
The investigation was hampered by the lack of data recorder evidence and the official report was not released until February 2013. After the crash, searchers were unable to find either the voice or flight data recorders. As the aircraft impacted in nearly vertical angle in high speed, this, causing most of the aircraft's components in the wreckage became severely damaged, or even unidentifiable. About 60% of the wreckage was recovered. Due to high speed at impact, the crash created a crater with smoke emanated profusely from the crater. The smoke continued for several days. Investigators stated that the crash wasn't survivable.
The AIB stated that a large convective system was formed near the aircraft at the time of the accident. As they received satellite imagery information from Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), apart from METAR, the satellite imagery showed that both infrared and water vapour images revealed the presence of large circular shaped clouds in couplet, especially over the south western portion including Lagos and also over the coastal part of south of Nigeria. The couplet cells appeared to remain stationary or slow moving while intensifying and eventually merging to become a large cloud cell at midnight over the southwestern part of the country; at the same time the cumulonimbus cloud over the coast of the south weakened and eventually dissipated. There was also a satellite imagery report produced by Boeing Aircraft Company which indicated strong convective storm activity near the accident site at the time of the accident. Icing might have also been a factor but only above Flight Level 150.
Suspicion on mid flight explosion arose when the cargo hold area were recovered from the wreckage. Pieces of burnt fuselage parts of the left side of the underbelly of the aircraft were found approximately 100 feet away from the crater created by the impact of the aircraft with the ground. The burnt parts contained a portion of the registration number and another section of the skin with the other part of the registration number. The two pieces matched and were suspected to emanate from the left side of the fuselage.
The Nigerian government then invited the Nigerian State Security Services and the American FBI to determine the cause of the crash and to confirmed if an explosion occurred in mid-flight. FBI took a piece of the burnt part, swabs from the inner and outer surface of the burnt piece and an electronic part found within the folded section of the piece of interest, back to their facilities for laboratory analysis and screened for presence of explosive residue. The results of the tests were negative (no explosion).
AIB could not identify the cause of the accident, but considered several factors:
With no ability to reconstruct the flight the investigation was unable to come to any conclusion of the aircraft or crews performance or the effect of the weather on the flight. The AIB could not reach a conclusion about the cause but made Four safety recommendations in the report:
- The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority should improve oversight of airline maintenance and operations.
- The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency should increase radar coverage to enhance air traffic services and assist in search and rescue operations.
- Bellview should improve its maintenance procedures and authorisations.
- Bellview should review its safety and quality control regime.