747f Mk-airlines Crash


Mar 7, 2003
14 OCT 2004 Boeing 747F MK-Airlines, Halifax, Canada ?(7)

Please note this information is preliminary; new information will be added on the Aviation Safety Network at http://aviation-safety.net/index.shtml. The 2004 year list of accidents always contains the most recent information on each accident.

ASN ACCIDENT DIGEST 2004-21 (1 - first notice)


An MK Airlines Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into a rock quarry at the end of a runway immediately after takeoff from Halifax, Canada. The fate of the crew is not known, but a spokesman for MK Airlines said the situation looked grim. The airplane was on its way from New York to Zaragoza, Spain and had just made an intermediate stop at Halifax.
More information will be posted later at http://aviation-safety.net/index.shtml as it becomes available. Should it indeed turn out to be a fatal accident, a full ASN Accident Digest will be sent out as usual within 24-36 hours.


All 7 crew members were killed.

Date: 14 OCT 2004
Time: 03:56
Type: Boeing 747-244BSF
Operator: MK Airlines
Registration: 9G-MKJ ?
Msn / C/n: 22170/486
Crew: 7 fatalities / 7 on board
Passengers: 0 fatalities / 0 on board
Total: 7 fatalities / 7 on board
Airplane damage: Written off
Location: Halifax International Airport, NS (YHZ) (Canada)
Phase: Takeoff
Nature: Cargo
Departure airport: Halifax International Airport, NS (YHZ)
Destination airport: Zaragoza Airport (ZAZ)
Flightnumber: 1602
MK Airlines flight 1602 departed Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport for a flight to Zaragoza, Spain with a cargo of lawn tractors. An intermediate stop was made at Halifax to pick up 53,000 kilograms of lobster and fish. Weather was fine as the airplane prepared for a runway 06 departure. On takeoff however the airplane could not get airborne. It ran off the 8800 ft / 2682 m long runway and ran through the perimeter fence. The airplane carreered into a wooded area and began to break up. The wings separated and a fire started, which consumed the fuselage. The registration not confirmed yet.
Source: (also check out sources used for every accident)
Fly said:
Registration: 9G-MKJ ?
The registration not confirmed yet.


Assuming this is indeed the correct reg, the aircraft was a converted 747-244B built in 1980 for South African.

Thanks for the info, Fly, as I was going to ask if anyone had heard about this. I just saw a brief mention on the lower-screen TV "news scroll" that just said that a freighter had crashed in Nova Scotia, Canada with crew fatalities.
Had to look up MK in the jp book as I've never heard of them. They're based in Ghana, Africa.
US757, the last report I saw today reported that the tail separated from the aircraft.

Is it possible for the 747 tail to come in contact with the runway at liftoff?
cirrus said:
US757, the last report I saw today reported that the tail separated from the aircraft.

Is it possible for the 747 tail to come in contact with the runway at liftoff?

Most definitely. Another line of thought might be a significant CG shift if the cargo had not been properly secured.
Is it possible for the 747 tail to come in contact with the runway at liftoff?

Quite possible. And the CG shift could certainly have contributed. But if the tail separated from the aircraft after positive rate, then I don't think it was load-related. Although, the report said that the aircraft never lifted off the runway, but the aircraft may have rolled and that theory would prove likely. If anyone sees any further reports, please post it up.
Here's an article about the crash from today's The Globe and Mail:


UPDATED AT 1:26 AM EDT Saturday, Oct 16, 2004

Jet's tail key to crash investigation

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Halifax — Investigators are trying to determine why the tail of a Boeing 747 freighter scraped the ground twice before tearing away and sending the huge jet into a fatal, fiery heap just beyond the airport boundary.

The Boeing 747-200 owned and operated by MK Airlines, a small cargo carrier based in England, crashed in the early-morning darkness Thursday, just moments after the wheels left the runway at Halifax International Airport. Seven crew members, all residents of South Africa and Zimbabwe, died.

After the tail slammed into the runway for the second time, the plane hit a berm at the end of the strip, tearing through navigational antennas and crashing in a forest a kilometre beyond.

"The indication is there was prolonged contact of the aft fuselage with the runway and off the end of the runway," said Bill Fowler, investigator with the Transportation Safety Board. "The main part of the fuselage continued ballistically until the final impact point."

Many things — including but not limited to engine failure, overload and cargo shift — can cause a tail strike, Mr. Fowler said. He emphasized that it is too soon to pursue one probability.

But a former airline industry worker, who at one time oversaw the doomed freighter, believed the plane's considerable load may have shifted as it was attempting takeoff.

Rod Meyers, who managed operations for Garuda Indonesia at Los Angeles International Airport from 1992 through 1994 when the plane was owned by that airline, estimated that he loaded and unloaded it more than 500 times.

Mr. Meyers, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and lost his job after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States after more than 20 years in the airline-cargo industry, explained how a change in the centre of gravity can affect a plane, causing a tail to hit the runway.

"To cause a plane to tilt out of control like that, there has to be some sort of outside force," he said. "My first thought was that the load shifted. When they tried to rotate, everything tilted to the back, rendering the plane unflyable and causing the tail to hit. Seafood can be pretty heavy. It doesn't take much momentum to shift it."

The plane was carrying 53,305 kilograms of seafood and an unspecified amount of lawn tractors. It originated in Hartford, Conn., and stopped in Halifax to load lobsters and fuel up before carrying on to Spain.

Captain John Power, the MK operations manager in Halifax for the investigation, said yesterday it was "highly unlikely" that cargo came loose. "Not if it was prepared correctly," he said. "It was fully secured by cargo nets attached to pallet and fully secured."

Airplane cargo is assembled on metal pallets, typically accommodating up to 6,500 kilos each, restrained with nets. Each spot on the plane has a different weight limit and cargo is carefully arranged accordingly and locked into place. It is not supposed to move.

However, Mr. Meyers argued: "The tail hit the runway twice, which sounds to me like when they tried to take off the weight shifted and they tried to continue with the takeoff. We're talking thousands of pounds; if a couple of boxes of fish fell over, it won't make a difference. But if a couple of pallets fell into the back end, you could easily have a problem."

At the point where the crew would realize that the cargo had shifted — once the nose began to tilt up — it would be too late. Travelling at roughly 330 kilometres an hour, the plane was committed to takeoff.

"They wouldn't know anything has shifted until the plane started to tilt on rotation," Mr. Meyers said. "If the load had shifted, they wouldn't be prepared and in most cases it would cause a calamity. In general, you would throw the throttle and try to get the plane in the air. At that point, it's your flying skills versus the laws of gravity."

Mr. Fowler said yesterday that investigators have yet to recover the black box data recorders, which may go a long way toward telling them what happened in the flight's final moments.

Meanwhile, Capt. Power called MK's safety record "excellent" despite the fact the airline had suffered three previous crashes, in 1992, 1996 and 2001. The aircraft was destroyed in each accident. They all occurred in Nigeria on landing. One crew member died in the 2001 crash.
From the Globe and Mail

UPDATED AT 4:00 PM EDT Friday, Oct 22, 2004

Cargo jet going too slow when it crashed: investigators
Canadian Press

Halifax — A Boeing 747 cargo jet that struggled to get in the air before crashing last week was travelling too slow to lift off safely.

Bill Fowler of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said Friday that the MK Airlines Ltd. plane was rolling up the runway at 240 kilometres an hour — about 55 km/h slower than it should have — when it crashed on Oct. 14 at Halifax International Airport.

"In order to get to (296 km/h) within the runway available, they needed more thrust," Mr. Fowler said.

The jumbo jet was barely airborne when it rocketed off the end of the runway and crashed into woods, killing all seven crew members on board.

Mr. Fowler said a flight data recorder recovered from the wreckage last weekend has indicated the 747's four engines were functionally normally and wouldn't speculate on why the plane didn't have enough thrust.

However, the TSB issued an advisory Friday on the proper weighing of cargoes, suggesting investigators believe the plane may have been overloaded when it tried to take off.

"The thrust was less than what was required or what we would have expected for the load," Mr. Fowler said in an interview.

The plane was loaded with lawn tractors, computer gear and 53,000 kilograms of seafood when it tried to leave Halifax for a flight for Spain. A 747 has a payload capacity of about 60,000 kilograms.

Investigators know the plane's tail hit the runway twice before hitting an earthen mound at the end of the runway and breaking off.

Mr. Fowler said the total weight of the cargo had not been accurately established "but we have not said at this point that this was a factor."

Investigators have determined that the shipping company didn't weigh the fully loaded pallets of seafood, providing the airline instead with an estimate based on the average weight of each box of seafood. That total wouldn't have included the weight of the wooden pallets carrying the seafood or other materials used in packing.

Mr. Fowler refused to speculate, however, that the jet may have been overloaded.

"We're not suggesting that. We don't have the information to let us go there," he said.

Mr. Fowler, the lead investigator in the crash, said there are a number of possible explanations for the low thrust of the engines. The absence of a working cockpit voice recorder will make determining the reason more difficult, he added.

The cockpit voice recorder, which monitors the conversations of the pilot and co-pilot, was also recovered but was too badly damaged to be of any use.

The plane's engines became an early focus of the investigation when Mr. Fowler revealed last week that two of them were replaced recently, raising questions about their state of repair.

Investigators are also examining whether the plane's cargo might have shifted on takeoff, making it impossible for the pilot to get in the air.

The board is also considering the account of at least one airport worker who suggested the pilot might not have not have taxied to the very top of the 2,700-metre runway before turning and beginning his takeoff.

The crash was the fourth in 12 years for MK Airlines, which is based in Britain and has a fleet of aircraft flying out of Ghana. Four Britons, two Zimbabweans and a German were killed in the crash.

The transcript of the final conversation between an air traffic controller and the pilot of a Boeing 747 won't be released to the public. The safety board says such transcripts are normally protected by federal law.