Kenya Airways Flight 431

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Kenya Airways Flight 431 was an international scheduled Abidjan–Lagos–Nairobi passenger service, operated with an Airbus A310-300, that crashed into the sea, off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, on 30 January 2000, shortly after takeoff from Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport. There were 179 people on board, of whom 169 were passengers. Only ten people survived the accident, which was the first fatal one for Kenya Airways.


The aircraft involved in the accident was an Airbus A310-304, registration 5Y-BEN, and it was named Harambee Star. With c/n 426, the airframe entered service with Kenya Airways in September 1986. The aircraft had logged 58,115 flight hours at the time of the accident. It was equipped with a twin-GE CF6-80C2A2 powerplant. The port and starboard engine's serial numbers were 690,120 and 690,141, respectively; before the crash, they had accumulated 43,635 and 41,754 flight hours, respectively.

The captain was a male aged 44 who had obtained his license on 10 August 1988; the license had been renewed on 30 November 1999 and was valid until 17 June 2000. He qualified as an A310 pilot on 20 July 1999 after a course undertaken at an Airbus training facility in Toulouse. The copilot, a male aged 43 who obtained his rating on the type on 11 March 1991, had his license – which had been issued on 4 August 1999 – valid until 11 February 2000. Both the pilot and the co-pilot had performed four landings and four takeoffs on the type at Abidjan Airport; their last takeoff from the airport took place on the day of the accident.

The airframe was completely destroyed by the impact.


The flight originated in Nairobi as Flight KQ430, and was due to land in Abidjan after a stopover in Lagos. Many Nigerians who travelled to Dubai for duty-free shopping used this flight. The aircraft flew directly to Abidjan because of weather conditions over Lagos. More specifically, harmattan winds blowing southwards from the Sahara made skies over Lagos unusually hazy on that day, and all incoming flights at Lagos Airport were halted.

After a three-hour layover, the plane took off for Lagos at 21:08 GMT and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) east of the airport, off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, about a minute later.

This was Kenya Airways' first fatal accident. After the accident, Kenya Airways set up a crisis centre at the Nairobi Inter-Continental Hotel in Nairobi.

Passengers and crew

There were 169 casualties, out of 179 people on board the aircraft. Most of the passengers and crew were reported to be Nigerians. Two of the crewmembers on board worked for KLM. The 168 people that lost their lives in the accident came from 33 countries; the nationality of one additional deceased victim was not determined.

Powerboat operators and fishermen extracted at least seven of the survivors from the water. Of those survivors, three were Nigerians, one was a Kenyan, one was a Gambian, one was an Indian, and one was a Rwandan. One survivor, a Frenchman, swam almost 1 mile (1.6 km) to the shore. Of the 12 initial survivors, two died in the hospital. Of the ten ultimate survivors, nine received serious injuries and one received minor injuries. Four survivors received first degree burns from contact with jet fuel in the water. The entire crew of ten perished in the accident.

The University Hospital Medical Center at Treichville (French: Centre Hospitalier et Universitaire de Treichville) in Abidjan examined the deceased. The center identified 103 of the bodies and was unable to identify the other 43. Of the 145 of the deceased, 108 died from serious poly-traumatic lesions, 22 died from a combination of drowning lesions and serious poly-traumatic lesions, and 15 died solely from drowning lesions. The hospital could not determine the injuries sustained by one of the bodies. According to the autopsy reports, a violent deceleration or a twisting or cutting action resulted in the injuries. Forty-three of the deceased received first degree burns due to contact with the jet fuel spilled in the water. The pilots died from poly-traumatic lesions; they also received first degree burns from the jet fuel.


The Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile, the accident investigation authority of France, assisted in the search for the flight recorders. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada analysed the flight safety recorders.

The Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire published the original French language accident report. The BEA published its English version of the report.

The sequence of events were as follows:

  1. An errant stall warning sounds immediately after takeoff.
  2. The pilot put the aircraft into a descent.
  3. The crew did not apply maximum engine power.
  4. The ground proximity warning did not sound because the stall warning took precedence.
  5. Overspeed warning sounds.
  6. The Captain gives the order to climb.
  7. The aircraft collides with the sea.

As of March 2012, the accident has the highest death toll of any aviation accident involving an Airbus A310.


Kenya Airways compensated the families of 60 deceased Nigerians; each family received US$130,000 ($173,146 in 2015).


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