Wednesday, May 8, 2013

National Airlines Flight 102

National Airlines Flight 102 was a cargo flight operated by National Airlines between Camp Bastion—a British military base in Afghanistan—and Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai. On 29 April 2013 a Boeing 747-400 operating the flight, shortly after taking off from a refueling stop at Bagram Airfield—a US military base in Afghanistan—crashed, killing all seven crew.[1][2]




The aircraft involved was a Boeing 747-428BCF registration N949CA, S/N 25630. It was manufactured in 1993 as a passenger aircraft and later modified for service as a freighter. At the time of the crash the aircraft was flying on behalf of the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command.[3][4]


National Airlines Flight 102 is located in Afghanistan
Accident location shown within Afghanistan
At the time of the crash the airline had been operating between Bagram Air Base and Dubai for a month.[3] The airline said that the accident aircraft had originated in Camp Bastion,[5] and then refueled at Bagram.[6] The aircraft had taken off from Bagram's runway 03 at 15:30 Afghanistan time (11:00 am UTC) and was climbing through 1,200 feet (370 m) when its nose rose sharply. According to an unconfirmed claim, a crew member was heard on VHF air-band radio reporting that some of the load of five heavy military vehicles in the cargo hold had shifted; the aircraft then stalled and crashed.[3] 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,[4] died: four pilots, two mechanics and a loadmaster.
Although Taliban spokespersons claimed responsibility for the destruction of the aircraft, reports based on alleged communications from the crew after takeoff suggest that the crash may have resulted from a catastrophic load shift, which caused the aircraft to experience a high-aft center of gravity condition, become unstable, stall and crash.[3] A car driver in the vicinity of the runway end recorded the stall and the crash; the video is available online.[3][7] CNN stated that a government official speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the video was authentic.[6]


The National Transportation Safety Board and the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the crash.[4] Richard Quest of CNN said that while the investigation will be hosted by the Afghan authorities, the expertise will come from the NTSB and possibly investigation authorities from Europe.[8] The NTSB reported in an April 30 press release that representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Boeing Company will also provide technical expertise and aid in the investigation.[9]


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.[10]


  1. ^ "Crash: National Air Cargo B744 at Bagram on Apr 29th 2013, lost height shortly after takeoff". 29 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Seven killed in US cargo plane crash at Afghan base". 2013-04-29. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e Simon Hradecky (Monday, 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.
  4. ^ a b c Yan, Holly; Alsup, Dave (2013-05-01). "Cargo plane crashes in Afghanistan, killing 7 Americans". Retrieved 2013-05-01.
  5. ^ "Information Related to Flight NCR102." National Air Cargo (Archive) Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Video of Bagram plane crash legitimate, U.S. official says." CNN. May 6, 2013. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
  7. ^ Boeing 747 stall and crashes, YouTube. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  8. ^ Quest, Richard. "Multiple factors to examine in 747 probe." CNN. May 1, 2013. Retrieved on May 1, 2013. 00:50-1:04. "So, the investigation i-handled?? Afghan authorities that will host the investigation. But, clearly, the expertise for handling this will come from, uh, the NTSB in the United States and possibly the European investigating authorities."
  9. ^ "NTSB to assist Afghan authorities with investigation into Bagram cargo plane crash". NTSB Press Releases. National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Plane crash stalls Afghan withdrawal". 3 News NZ. May 2, 2013.

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