How Kenya Airways pilot saved a Turkish plane from crashing Print E-mail
Written by Aviation Herald and John Kamau   
Capt Verjee: "I thought, it was a little weird to hear such a conversation between two flights on an active ATC frequency."
September 26, 2008:
A Kenyan pilot is winning global accolades after he helped a Turkish plane that had lost contact with the ground to successfully land in Lome, Togo, some 120 miles from Lagos where it was scheduled.

The Turkish Airlines Airbus A310-300-  flight TK1123-  was  en-route from Istanbul (Turkey) to Lagos (Nigeria) with 196 passengers, but went missing while on approach to Lagos at around 10 pm Lagos local time.

But little is known that Kenya Airways Captain Salim Verjee managed to guide the Turkish Airbus from a near disaster.

"He is the talk of the aviation industry. We have received a lot of mails thanking him," says Ms Victoria Kaigai, the head of communications at Kenya Airways.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Togo reported after the incident, which occurred on August 14th 2008, that the airplane had lost all navigation instruments and communication radios.

The Turkish captain then decided to turn west along the coast knowing that, they had chances to visually find the airports of Cotonou (Benin), Lome (Togo) or Accra (Ghana).

At that time Captain Salim M. Verjee and First Officer John Mwaura, who were flying their Boeing 737-700 flight KQ513 from Dakar (Senegal) via Bamako (Mali) to Nairobi (Kenya) had tuned into Accra's frequency 130.90 MHz on their return leg to Nairobi.

Captain Verjee told The Aviation Herald, that after switching to the Accra frequency overhead Nanga, a boundary in the northwest between Burkina Faso and Ghana he overheard an Egypt Air crew asking Turkish 1123, if he was in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) at 5,000 feet and if he could see the landing lights of the Egypt Air plane at 10,000 feet in VMC.

"I thought, it was a little weird to hear such a conversation between two flights on an active ATC frequency. It then dawned on me after a few more exchanges, that the Turkish 1123 was unsure of his position as he had lost some critical navigation equipment and had just done a go-around in Lagos a little while ago," says Captain Verjee.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
Procurement Consultant
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Home: +250-55104140
P.O. Box 3867
East Africa
Blog: http://www.cepgl.blogspot.com
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