DETROIT (AP) — A shifting of heavily armored military vehicles is being examined as a possible factor in the 2013 crash of a cargo plane in Afghanistan that killed six crew members from Michigan and one from Kentucky, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
Its 86-page report is described as a summary of operational factors in the crash and does not reach conclusions on what caused it. The agency said its findings on the cause are still to come.
The Dubai-bound Boeing 747-400 plane was being operated by National Air Cargo when it crashed just after takeoff from Bagram Air Base on April 29, 2013. It was carrying 207 tons of cargo, including five Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles weighing 12 to 18 tons each. It picked them up at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, and took on 53 tons of fuel at Bagram before taking off for Dubai.
"According to National Airlines, the captain and first officer did not have prior experience carrying mine-resistant armored vehicles, and it was the first time National Airlines had transported 18-ton military vehicles," the report said.
The flight took longer than originally planned when Pakistan refused permission for the plane to use its air space for a direct flight from Camp Bastion to Dubai, and Taliban forces opened fire on Camp Bastion, delaying the plane's arrival by about an hour, the report said.
"While the plane was still on the ramp in Bagram, the captain was made aware of a broken strap found by one of the other crewmembers, and the cockpit crew had a discussion about a possible shift of the cargo load during landing in Bagram," the report said. "There was additional discussion on re-securing the load prior to departure."
Orlando, Florida-based National Airlines had recently moved its headquarters from Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit. National Airlines is a subsidiary of National Air Cargo.
The crash killed navigator Jamie Brokaw, of Monroe, Michigan; maintenance worker Gary Stockdale, 51, of Romulus, Michigan; pilots Brad Hasler, 34, of Trenton, Michigan, and Jeremy Lipka, 37, of Brooklyn, Michigan; first officer Rinku Summan, 32, of Canton, Michigan; loadmaster Michael Sheets, 36, of Ypsilanti, Michigan; and maintenance crewman Timothy Garrett, 51, of Louisville, Kentucky.