National Airlines Flight 102
|Date||29 April 2013|
|Summary||Lost control and crashed after take-off due to load shift|
|Site||Bagram Airfield, Parwan Province, Afghanistan |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 747-428BCF|
|IATA flight No.||N8102|
|ICAO flight No.||NCR102|
|Call sign||ISAF[note 1] 95 Alpha Quebec|
|Flight origin||Châteauroux-Centre "Marcel Dassault" Airport, Châteauroux, France|
|Stopover||Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan|
|Last stopover||Bagram Airfield, Parwan Province, Afghanistan|
|Destination||Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
National Airlines Flight 102 was a cargo flight operated by National Airlines between Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai, with a refueling stop at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. On 29 April 2013, the Boeing 747-400 operating the flight crashed moments after taking off from Bagram, killing all seven people on board.
The subsequent investigation concluded that improperly secured cargo broke free during the take-off and rolled to the back of the cargo hold, crashing through the rear pressure bulkhead and disabling the rear flight control systems. This rendered the aircraft uncontrollable, making recovery from a stall brought on by a change of balance from the shifted cargo impossible.
At the time of the crash, the airline had been operating between Camp Bastion and Dubai for a month. The accident flight had originated in Camp Bastion, where it had been loaded with five heavy armoured vehicles, and had stopped at Bagram Airfield to refuel. The aircraft then took off from Bagram's runway 03 at 15:30 local time and was climbing through 1,200 feet (370 m) when its nose rose sharply. At the same time on an internet video, 3 vehicles; a dump truck, a bus and a jeep were driving on the airport base's perimeter road as the plane takes off above. The aircraft then stalled, banked right, and leveled off just before impact with the ground, the whole aircraft exploded into a large fireball, almost damaging the vehicles nearby. The crash site was off the end of runway 03, within the perimeter of the airfield. All seven crew, all of whom were U.S. citizens, died: four pilots, two mechanics, and a loadmaster. No one on the ground was injured.
A thunderstorm was also in the vicinity of Bagram at the time of the crash and the wind changed direction by 120° during one hour commencing approximately 35 minutes before the crash. A dashboard camera on a car in the vicinity of the runway end recorded the crash, which shows the aircraft pitching up, falling into a stall, and then sharply banking right after a slight bank to the left, indicating asymmetrical lift. The plane soon righted itself and then crashed at a shallow angle on the ground. CNN stated that a government official speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed the video's authenticity.
The aircraft involved was a 20-year-old Boeing 747-428BCF,[note 2] registration N949CA, S/N 25630. It was manufactured in 1993 as a combi aircraft, and delivered to Air France and later modified for service as a freighter with Air France, before being sold to National Airlines. At the time of the crash, the aircraft was flying on behalf of the United States Air Force's Air Mobility Command.
The first officer was 33-year-old Jamie Lee Brokaw, who had worked for the airline since 2009 and had 1,100 flight hours, with 209 of them on the Boeing 747.:10
The relief captain was 37-year old Jeremy Lipka, and the relief first officer was 32-year-old Rinku Shumman.
The loadmaster was 36-year-old Michael Sheets, who had worked for the airline since 2010.:7
The crash interrupted the New Zealand Defence Force's (NZDF) withdrawal from Afghanistan, as it was only hours away from using another National Airlines aircraft to fly equipment out of the country; after the crash, the NZDF indefinitely postponed using National Airlines for its airlift requirements.
The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority investigated the crash. The NTSB reported in a 30 April 2013 press release that representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Boeing Company would also provide technical expertise and aid in the investigation.
On 2 June 2013, investigators from the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation of Afghanistan confirmed the load shift hypothesis as the starting point: the cargo of five mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (three Cougars and two Oshkosh M-ATV's), totaling 80 tons of weight, had not been properly secured. At least one armored vehicle had come loose and rolled backward, crashing through the airplane's rear bulkhead, damaging it. In the process it crippled key hydraulic systems and severely damaged the horizontal stabilizer components – most notably breaking the jackscrew, which rendered the airplane uncontrollable. Control of the aircraft was therefore lost, with the abnormal pitch-up rotation, stall, and crash to the ground ensuing. The damage made it impossible for the crew to regain control of the aircraft.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was "National Airlines' inadequate procedures for restraining special cargo loads, which resulted in the loadmaster's improper restraint of the cargo." One of the key recommendations was to mandate training for all loadmasters.
The Canadian TV series Mayday (also known as Air Disasters and Air Emergency in the US and Air Crash Investigation in the UK and the rest of the world) covered Flight 102 in episode 10 of season 16, called "Afghan Nightmare", first broadcast in 2017.
- Boeing 747 hull losses
- Air Midwest Flight 5481, 2003 stall and subsequent crash of a Beechcraft 1900D caused by incorrect loading procedure resulting in overloading
- MK Airlines Flight 1602
- Fine Air Flight 101
- Emery Worldwide Flight 17
- Abbreviation for International Security Assistance Force.
- The aircraft was a Boeing 747-400 model; Boeing assigns a unique code for each company that buys one of its aircraft, which is applied as an infix to the model number at the time the aircraft is built, hence "747-428". This aircraft was converted to freighter configuration as part of Boeing's conversion program of passenger 747-400s, hence "747-428BCF" for Boeing Converted Freighter.
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- "Operations - Attachment 2 - Crew Information" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 15 February 2015. DCA13MA081. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
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- 'We're all devastated': Americans killed in 747 crash mourned[dead link]
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- Hradecky, Simon (29 April 2013). "Crash: National Air Cargo B744 at Bagram on Apr 29th 2013, lost height shortly after takeoff". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- "Air Crash Investigation – Episodes season 15". NG Europe. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- National Transportation Safety Board
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