1974 Lufthansa Flight 540 Boeing 747 crash in Nairobi

Lufthansa Flight 540 was a scheduled commercial flight for Lufthansa, serving the Frankfurt–Nairobi–Johannesburg route.

On 20 November 1974, the Boeing 747-130 that was operating as Flight 540 was carrying 157 people (140 passengers and 17 crew members) crashed and caught fire shortly after taking off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi for the last leg of the flight, resulting in the deaths of 55 passengers and 4 crew members. This was the first fatal accident involving 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 climb 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 3,700 feet (1,100 m) from the end of the runway, the 747 airplane crashed in the grass. It then struck an elevated access road and broke up. The left wing exploded and fire spread to the fuselage. 55 of the 140 passengers and 4 of the 17 crew members died.


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It’s chilling to think how such a routine flight could turn tragic in a matter of moments. Reading about incidents like this really puts into perspective the risks involved in air travel, despite all the safety measures in place. I wonder how investigations were carried out back then compared to today’s standards. It’s incredible how aviation safety has evolved over the years to prevent such disasters.

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It also makes me appreciate the advancements in technology that help in ensuring safer flights nowadays. On a different note, I’ve been curious about business class travel flights lately—just trying to get more info on what makes them stand out. If anyone has experiences or insights to share, I’d love to hear about it.