Shifting cargo likely cause of Afghanistan crash

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has yet to issue a final report on the April 29, 2013, crash of a National Air Cargo freighter at a military base in Afghanistan, but it is likely to have been a result of shifting cargo.

The 747-400F was carrying five armored military vehicles. Two of these weighed about 12 tonnes each, and the other three weighed about 18 tonnes each. It was the first time National Air had transported these types of vehicles.

Initial investigation of the wreckage at Bagram Airfield showed that the aft-most vehicle broke loose from its restraints during takeoff, shifted rearward and damaged the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, before it broke through the aft bulkhead.

A video of the crash, caught on a vehicle’s dashboard camera, shows the freighter’s nose pitch upward, before it rolls to the right and falls from the sky, exploding on impact. The Navy Times reported that the NTSB has not reached its final conclusion, but the shifting of the vehicle is being examined. Since the flight data recorder was destroyed, it may never be known.

The Dubai-bound aircraft picked up the military vehicles at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, then took on 53 tons of fuel at Bagram before departing for Dubai. The captain knew of a broken strap securing one of the vehicles, and there was discussion among the crew about a possible shift in the cargo. There was additional discussion about re-securing the vehicle before departure from Bagram.

The crash killed all seven crew members on board.

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