NTSB to complete probe in crash killing 6 from Michigan

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

The National Transportation Safety Board will complete an investigation into an April 2013 crash of a Boeing 747 at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan that killed seven, including six from Michigan.

In a statement Thursday, the NTSB said it is assuming responsibility from the Afghan government for completing the final report into the April 29, 2013, crash of a National Airlines Boeing 747 at Bagram. The cargo flight crashed on takeoff on its way from Bagram to Dubai. All seven crew members were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed.

The NTSB assisted the investigation after the crash. This week, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority delegated the remainder of the investigation to the NTSB, which will include completing the final report.

In 2013, investigators found evidence that a major incident — likely a shift of a multi-ton military vehicle —doomed the National Air Cargo B747-400 that crashed shortly after takeoff.

The cargo had previously been loaded in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan; the stop at Bagram was for adding fuel before continuing on to its destination in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The crew members killed included a pilot who had just married his longtime girlfriendin Michigan just weeks before the crash.

Brad Hasler, 34, of Trenton was married April 14, 2013, in a small family ceremony in Detroit.

Also killed were pilots Jeremy Lipka of Brooklyn, Mich., Jamie Brokaw of Monroe and Rinku Summan of Canton Township; loadmaster Michael Sheets of Ypsilanti; and mechanics Gary Stockdale, 51, of Romulus and Timothy Garrett of Louisville, Ky.

The plane was owned by National Airlines, an Orlando, Fla.-based subsidiary of National Air Cargo.

National Airlines, which was based until 2013 at Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit, carries cargo commercially and for the military.

The investigating team at Bagram Air Force Base of the Afghan Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation of Afghanistan said investigators found the imprint from an all-terrain vehicle's spare tire on the center of the aft pressure bulkhead liner, suggesting the ATV had either shifted or broken free moments after takeoff.

Two pieces of the interior housing panels that contained data recorders — but not the recorders themselves — were recovered from inside an ATV along with some aft pressure bulkhead lining material.

Several pieces of the airplane and a hydraulic line were recovered on the runway near the point where the plane lifted off and reached rotation. "These parts were identified as being from aft of the aft pressure bulkhead," the report said.

After acknowledging their takeoff clearance, there was no further communication from the airplane, which was carrying, among other cargo, five Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, two Oshkosh ATVs and three Cougar 4x4 vehicles — loaded on pallets in the main cargo area.

"Witnesses and video indicate that the airplane achieved a steep nose-up attitude shortly after becoming airborne before descending into the ground near the departure end of the takeoff runway at about 1056 local time," the report said.

Investigators have confirmed that a widely shown video on news sites and the Internet was authentic, a U.S. official said.

Almost all of the airplane structure forward of the doors was highly fragmented or completely consumed by fire.

The investigation recovered all remaining cargo straps and cargo locks, the hydraulic elevator actuators and several other airplane components.