Six Kenya Airways technicians are fighting for their lives in hospital with between fifty to eighty percent burns after an explosion occurred while they were servicing a plane at JKIA last week.
According to sources the technicians were doing a major service (C-Check) on a Boeing 737-800 with registration 5Y KYD where they used an internationally banned substance, methyl ethyl ketone(MEK) to clean part of the plane.
The substance is banned because it is known to be highly toxic, corrosive, and flammable.
While cleaning the plane, assistants to the Kenya Airways technicians who are from a third-party company contracted after the airline sacked staff who did the cleaning, used a vacuum cleaner to properly remove fluids and dust particles from parts being services.
Since MEK is highly flammable, the vacuum cleaner ignited a huge flame causing an explosion that injured at least two Kenya Airways technicians and four contractors who assist the technicians.
Fearing bad publicity, Kenya Airways has ensured that the news doesn’t leak while warning all those involved against taking photos or speaking to the media.
The accident comes just over one year after a similar one occurred in February 2019 where a plane rammed onto other planes being serviced.
The latest accident has drawn the interest of Boeing which is facing scrutiny and would love to prove that some airlines like Kenya Airways are not following internationally recognized protocols and procedures in their handling of the planes.
The KQ’s Boeing 737-800 was delivered to Kenya Airways in 2008 in a lease arrangement with General Electric’s Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). It’s used mostly for flights to Johannesburg or Lagos in Nigeria. The plane is known to have been flown last in March.