Thursday, Jun 29, 2006
HALIFAX (CP) - Incorrect data entered into
takeoff software was partly to blame for the fiery crash of
a Boeing 747 cargo plane in Halifax that killed seven crew
members, the Transportation Safety Board said Thursday when
it released its final report into the accident.
Police patrol the debris field of a downed 747
cargo plane near the airport in Halifax in October,
The board found that crew fatigue aboard the MK Airlines
Ltd. jet "increased the probability" of making such a
The report says the crew failed to notice that the
throttles for the engines were set too low before the crash
occurred in October 2004.
"Our investigation . . . underscored the importance of
well-rested, attentive and fully trained crews," said
Wendy Tadros, the board's acting chairwoman. "It also showed us that
airline companies must actively ensure that their crews adhere to proper
Gatineau - The fatal
crash of an MK Airlines Limited freight transport
plane at Halifax International Airport, Nova Scotia,
underscores the need for better systems to ensure
correct take-off speed and thrust, the
Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) said in
its final report (A04H0004) released today.
The report concluded that the speed and thrust
settings selected by the crew members in preparation
for their October 14, 2004 flight to Spain were
incorrect for the weight of the Boeing 747-244SF, a
converted jumbo jet. The aircraft did not achieve
sufficient altitude, hit a berm at the end of the
runway, crashed into the adjacent forest, and
burned. All seven crew members died.
The investigation found that the crew did not
receive adequate training on the Boeing Laptop Tool,
a computer program used to calculate the take-off
velocity and power necessary in light of factors
such as fuel weight, payload, and environmental
conditions. TSB investigators found that crew
fatigue and a dark take-off environment may have
compounded the likelihood of error. As a
consequence, the Board called on Canadian and
international regulatory authorities to ensure that
crews of large aircraft will be alerted in time when
there is not enough power to take off safely.
The Board recommended that: The Department of
Transport, in conjunction with the International
Civil Aviation Organization, the Federal Aviation
Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency,
and other regulatory organizations, establish a
requirement for transport category aircraft to be
equipped with a take-off performance monitoring
system that would provide flight crews with an
accurate and timely indication of inadequate
"We are asking the world's regulatory agencies to
ensure that crews of large aircraft will be alerted
in time when there is not enough power to take off
safely," said TSB Acting Chair Wendy Tadros. "Our
investigation uncovered the causes and contributing
factors. We now need to work to ensure that this
type of accident doesn't happen again."
MK Airlines, a British-based company, has said it believes the crew
received adequate rest and that it provided them with adequate training.
Investigators had earlier concluded the heavily laden aircraft simply
enough speed or power to make it off the runway.
The board is recommending that international aviation authorities
require cargo aircraft to be equipped with a device that would sound an
alarm when there is not enough power to take off safely.
"This investigation has shown that the problem we are addressing
today is a pervasive problem," said Tadros. "Our recommendation has the
potential to make air travel safer, not only here in Canada, but around
Tadros said the board found evidence of 12 similar accidents
worldwide that cost 300 lives.
"This is why we believe we need an additional line of defence - a
mechanism to catch the unexpected errors," she told a news conference.
The MK Airlines plane, carrying lobsters and tractor parts, failed to
lift off and dragged its tail along the runway before breaking up and
erupting into flames in a wooded area near Halifax International
The plane's entire crew was killed, including Capt. Michael
Thornycroft, a resident of South
Africa, as well as Capt. David Lamb and
flight engineers Pete Launder and Steve Hooper, all residents of
Also killed were ground engineer Mario Zahn, a German who lived in
South Africa, and loadmaster Chris Strydom and first officer Gary Keough,
both of Zimbabwe.