Fly540 Dash 8 Endures Rough Landing After Engine Failure

A Dash 8-300 operated by Kenyan airline Fly540 crash-landed in a field near Turkana, Kenya this morning after an engine failed mid-flight. The aircraft didn’t make it back to the Kapese Airstrip in Lodwar, where it had taken off five minutes before, and instead came down in scrubland. All 49 passengers and five crew are believed to be safe and unhurt.

Fly540 Dash 8-300
A Fly540 Dash 8-300 has crash-landed. Photo: RobertAlai via Twitter

What happened?

The Dash 8-300, registered 5Y-CGH, was being chartered by Tullow Oil to fly employees from Kapese Airstrip in Lodwar to Nairobi. According to the Star, there were 49 passengers and five crew members on board.

The aircraft departed the airstrip at Kapese at around 9:45 local time. It was just five minutes into the flight when the pilot had to turn back, citing ‘mechanical issues’ as the reason to abort the flight.

Videos and images shared on social media show that the aircraft did not land on an airstrip. It appears to have missed the target airport and crash landed in the bush. However, passengers can be seen deplaning safely, which is the important thing here.

All passengers are crew are believed to be safe and well following the dramatic landing. In fact, in a video shared online passengers can be heard applauding and cheering the pilot for landing the aircraft safely.

A foreign object strike

Fly540 considers that the cause of the engine failure was due to a ‘foreign object strike’. This could have been a bird hitting the engine, some flying debris or something else. While foreign object debris is less frequently a problem for turboprops, the intake can still suck in unwanted objects and cause engine failure.

Following the incident, the airline released a statement which said,

At 9:45am, FLY540’s Dash 8-300 aircraft had a suspected foreign object strike which led to an engine failure. The Captain then declared an emergency landing and landed safely with no injuries. This incident will lead to delays in our scheduled services over the next few days. Your patience will be appreciated.

Fly540 Dash 8 Endures Rough Landing After Engine Failure

Reports suggest that one of the aircraft’s landing gears did not deploy properly. This suggests a hydraulic failure, an issue that was separate to the engine issue that caused the emergency landing. The Star further reports that, on arrival at Kapese Airstrip, the pilot had conducted an emergency landing then. However, the flight to Nairobi still took place.

The airline has come under fire in the past for poor maintenance of its aircraft. Fly540 is thought to be under significant financial pressure, a situation that is presenting challenges in maintaining its fleet.

The airline operates a fleet of five aircraft: one each of the Dash 8-100. -200 and -300, as well as a pair of Bombardier CRJ200LRs. According to Planespotters, the airline’s fleet carries an average age of 27.8 years. 5Y-CGH is 21.2 years old.