Lufthansa Flight 540
was a scheduled commercial flight for Lufthansa
operated with a Boeing 747-130
, carrying 157 people (140 passengers and 17 crew members). The flight was operating the final segment of its Frankfurt
route. On 20 November 1974 it crashed and caught fire shortly past the runway
on takeoff. This was the first ever crash and third hull loss of a Boeing 747
As the aircraft was making its takeoff from runway 24 at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
in Nairobi, the pilots felt a buffeting
vibration. The captain continued the ascent and retracted the landing gear
. However, as this was being done, the aircraft started to descend and the stall warning system
light came on. The aircraft continued to descend and approximately from the end of the runway, the 747 grazed bushes and grass. It then struck an elevated access road and broke up. The left wing exploded and fire spread to the fuselage. Of the 157 people aboard, 59 perished (55 passengers and 4 crew members).
Efforts by crew members saved a number of lives. Thomas C. Scott
, a commercial pilot working the flight as a cabin crew member, was credited with saving the lives of a dozen passengers before the fuselage exploded by carrying the injured and escorting the dazed.
The cause of the crash was determined to be a stall caused by the leading edge slats
having been left in retracted position. Without slats deployed, the aircraft's stalling......