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Nigeria plane crash: Did the plane run out of fuel?

Nigeria plane crash: The pilot reported that both engines had failed as the Dana Air flight approached Lagos. What causes two engines to fail?

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Rescue workers search at the site of a plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday. A passenger plane carrying 153 people crashed in Nigeria's largest city government officials said.

(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

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The pilot of the Dana Air flight Sunday radioed "mayday" shortly before crashing in Lagos, Nigeria. The pilot also reported "two engines had failed," according to Harold Demuren, the director of Nigeria's civil aviation authority.

The 22-year-old McDonnell Douglas 83 has only two Pratt & Whitney engines. That means that, as the aircraft was approaching Lagos after a one-hour flight from Abuja, Nigeria's capital, it was effectively without power.

What would cause both engines to fail?

While the investigation into what caused this jet to crash – killing all 153 people on board and an as yet unknown number of people on the ground – won't produce a report for months, pilot and aviation safety forums have already begun speculating.

Jet engines, even old ones, rarely fail. And it's even more unusual for both engines to stop.

The speculation centers on two possible causes: bird strike or lack of fuel.

In fact, this same Dana Air jet lost an engine when several birds were ingested as it took off from Lagos airport (which is near the Atlantic Ocean) in 2010, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The aircraft made an emergency landing on April 19, 2010. No one was injured.

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