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Home > Air Crash > Did cargo shift cause the National Airlines Boeing 747-400 to crash at Bagram?
Did cargo shift cause the National Airlines Boeing 747-400 to crash at Bagram?
Aviation - Air Crash
Thursday, 02 May 2013 16:04

National Airlines Boeing 747-400 Plane Crash
Hi Captain Lim,

The Boeing 747-400 that just dropped out of the sky seems to defy the logic given here.

They are calling it a cargo shift problem.

Any comments on that Captain?


Hi James,

Looking at the video and from the Forum, it was speculated that the National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 may have control problem after taking off from Bagram airport in Afghanistan. It was heading for Dubai in the UAE. It is not clear if that was the result of cargo coming loose and shifted to the rear that caused the CG (centre of gravity) to move back.

The flight time to Dubai is about 2.5 hours and with a possibly low fuel load, the CG would have been very close to the aft limit. It would only take some movement of a heavy pallet to towards the back to render the aircraft uncontrollable.

It appears that the Boeing 747-400 Freighter was carrying 5 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles each weighing about 25,000 pounds (12,000 kg).

Speculations was that the Boeing 747-400 may have stalled on take-off. However, the exact cause can only be determined once the investigators have retrieved the black box.

The fatalities reported involved 4 aircrew, 2 mechanics and a loadmaster.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP)


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Comments (6)

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Suspicious kind of cargo
Considering the cargo had wheels it's not difficult to consider a cargo shift during take off if the MRAPs were not properly fixed by cargo management. As we see in the video the AOA (angle of attack) seems to be very high, maybe over 40 degrees. Let's wait for the black box as Captain Lim wisely said.
Carlos Moreira , 04 May, 2013
Plane having to be used
Why didn't they use Antonov AN-225?
George , 06 May, 2013
安东诺夫-AN-225好像只有1架(Antonov AN-225 is seemed like only 1 plane left)
AN- 225当初是为了运载苏联“暴风雪号”航天
毛涤非MaoDiFei , 13 May, 2013
Former C-12 Pilot at Bagram AB
If a stall is to be considered then it is possible that the crew placed the aircraft into a much higher angle of attack seeking to climb to a safe altitude fearing rockets that could potentially be fired at the aircraft. Having flown over 200 combat support missions there at Bagram I have had the tower warn of potential missle launches at a previously departing aircraft. That would certainly spook a young crew on their first flight into an actve war zone. Unfortuantely there have been certain unnamed aircrews that may have mistaken the huge trash fire pit located just off of the end of the runway for a missle launch. I was adjusting my night vision goggles on the ramp as I readied for a mission at the same time that a C-130 crew was reporting a missle launch as they departed. My location was near the departure end of the ramp area and I would have certainly seen the launch. My sensor operator says that crews seeking the combat air medal have been known to exaggerate an enemy contact. As of 2012 I have no knowledge of any ManPad being fired at an aircraft at Bagram
Lester , 15 May, 2013
'Sounds Plausible
Cargo shift is possible. One thing about such an occurrence is that you can hear the cargo shift both inside and outside the aircraft, especially if the cargo is heavy, metal and bulky. The crew would have been making some reference to the aircraft pitch, and may have figured that out just prior to the crash.
David Baker , 23 Jun, 2013
Initial accident report have been reported

shifting cargo, consisting of three armored vehicles and two mine sweepers totalling at 80 tons of weight, caused the accident. The cargo slammed so hard at the back of the aircraft, that parts of the aircraft separated and wiring in the back was severed. As result of the shift and loss of aircraft parts the center of gravity moved so far back, that the attitude of the aircraft could no longer be controlled, the nose of the aircraft rose beyond the flying envelope of the aircraft and the aircraft stalled destroying the aircraft and killing all crew in the resulting impact. Parts of the aircraft, that separated as result of the initial load shift, were recovered from the runway.

This is such a frightening accident that was way beyond the pilots control after the aircraft passed V1 speed. Thoughts and prays go to the families and victims involved.
Martin , 30 Jun, 2013

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