US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are to assist the inquiry into yesterday’s fatal accident involving Nigerian carrier ADC Airlines Boeing 737-200 during take-off from Abuja international airport.

NTSB investigator Dennis Jones is to head the agency’s team. Jones was assigned to represent the NTSB during the probe into two other high-profile accidents in Nigeria last year, involving a Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 at Lagos and a Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 at Port Harcourt.

Nigeria’s government is said to be preparing to ground ADC Airlines in the aftermath of the crash.

The aircraft had been carrying around 105 passengers and crew when it came down after departing the Nnamdi Azikwe airport in Nigerian capital Abuja for Sokoto; a handful of those on board survived, although figures have yet to be confirmed.

Nigerian aviation minister Babalola Borishade is said to have decided to withdraw the operating licence of the carrier.

There are few indications as to the precise circumstances of the accident but local media report stormy weather in the area at the time.

Nigerian press reports also state that the aircraft underwent a 3C-check at the end of July last year and was scheduled for a 4C-check in January 2007, with a D-check due in April next year.

Four or five people are reported to have survived, according to local media, down from six or seven as originally suggested by medical personnel.

The aircraft was registered as 5N-BFK. According to Flight's fleet database ACAS, the 737-200 had a serial number of 22891 and was built in 1983. Its legal owner is identified as Celtic Capital of the USA. ACAS says the aircraft had been in service with the airline since 2003.

The aircraft crashed at around 11:30 yesterday soon after takeoff from the . It was operating as flight 53 and was headed for Sokoto. Weather conditions are reported to have been poor at the time with a thunderstorm in the area.

The aircraft reportedly burst into flames upon crashing into a field around 2nm (3km) from the airport.

The airline has posted a statement saying the management and staff "commiserate with families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate air accident involving its 737 aircraft from Abuja to Sokoto." The short release goes on that the management "prays that God in His infinite mercies will grant the families and indeed all Nigerians the grace to overcome the grief."

Pictures of the incident show that little remains of the aircraft, with only part of the tail and a section of the fuselage intact.

ACAS fleet data says ADC Airlines currently operates four Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15A-powered 737-200s as well as one Boeing 727-200.

Source: Flight Daily News