* Seven killed were air force personnel* Air force did not identify the dead* Investigation underway, air force says(Adds statement from manufacturer Textron)By Abraham AchirgaABUJA, Feb 21 (Reuters) – A small Nigerian air forcepassenger plane crashed just outside Abuja airport afterreporting engine failure on Sunday, killing all seven people onboard, the air force said.The plane, a Beechcraft King Air 350i, was on its way to thecity of Minna, 110 kilometres (68 miles) northwest of thecapital, air force spokesman Ibikunle Daramole said in astatement.The aircraft “crashed while returning to the Abuja Airportafter reporting engine failure”, said Daramole. “Firstresponders are at the scene. Sadly, all seven personnel on boarddied in the crash.”The chief of the air force has ordered an investigation intothe accident, Daramole said.President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement sent hiscondolences to the air force and families of the victims, sayinghe was “deeply saddened by the fatal crash”.In scrubland just outside the airport perimeter, dozens ofmilitary and airport officials picked through the charredremnants of the fuselage as fire engines and ambulances stoodby. The smell of burning chemicals lingered in the air but nofire or smoke were visible. Onlookers watched the rescue effortsfrom behind a cordon.”As he (the plane’s pilot) was going down, he struggled togo back to the airport, at the end he just crashed,” said AlabaLawal, who said she witnessed the accident.”I just saw the whole thing explode, fire and smoke together… When I got there I saw dead bodies on the ground.”The air force did not provide the identities of those killedin the crash.The Beechcraft King Air 350i is a twin-propeller aircraftmade by Textron Aviation, a unit of the U.S.-based Textron IncTXT.N conglomerate. The model was first released around 2009. The company said in a statement that it had been notified ofthe accident, which it said is being investigated by Nigeria’sAircraft Investigation Bureau and the U.S. NationalTransportation Safety Board.”As a party to the investigation, the company is prohibitedby NTSB regulation from divulging any information about theaccident or investigation,” the company said.
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