Good morning and welcome
to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Christopher
Hart, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the NTSB. Joining me are
Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr, Member Robert Sumwalt and Member Earl Weener.
Today, we meet in
open session, as required by the Government in the Sunshine Act, to consider a report
on the crash of a Boeing 747-400 shortly after takeoff from Bagram Air Base,
Afghanistan, on April 29, 2013.
was originally led by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transportation and Civil
Aviation. At that time, the NTSB sent an accredited representative to assist.
In October 2014, the Ministry offered to delegate the investigation to the NTSB
and the NTSB accepted, becoming the lead agency.
The accident was a
tragic one; it was a cargo flight in which all seven crewmembers on board the
airplane died in the crash. On behalf of the NTSB, I would like to express our
condolences to the family members, friends, and colleagues of those who were lost.
Your loved ones took on an important mission to support American forces abroad,
and lost their lives not to enemy fire, but to an accident. We cannot change what happened, but in fully investigating
this accident, we hope to find ways to prevent such an accident from happening
Furthermore, we appreciate your patience throughout this complex international
The accident airplane
was operated by National Air Cargo, Inc., doing business as National Airlines,
under a multimodal contract with the U.S. Transportation Command. National
Airlines and the cargo-handling vendor, National Air Cargo, or NAC, were transporting
a special cargo load consisting of very large military motor vehicles, some of
it for the first time.
circumstances magnified the importance of having properly validated procedures
in place, and having those procedures carefully and adequately implemented by
personnel who understand the regulatory and safety basis of the procedures.
investigation led us to examine not only the actions of National Airlines’ personnel
and the procedures and training in place at National Airlines, but also the
role of the regulator. We reviewed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
regulations and guidance in place at the time of the accident for securing such
cargo, and the unique challenges posed by exercising oversight of these
operations in a war zone.
NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements includes
strengthening procedural compliance. This accident, unfortunately, highlights that
individual employees are not the only ones who play an important role in
procedural compliance. In this accident, we must ask whether the procedures
themselves were adequate to prevent the tragic outcome, even if employees had
followed them without fail.
addition, the regulator must provide the oversight needed to ensure that
company-developed procedures are compliant with FAA-approved data when critical
to safety. Further, the regulator must
enable this process through clear guidance and an inspection workforce that has
clearly defined roles and the knowledge required to effectively determine that
procedures are adequate.
their credit, the FAA, National Airlines, and the National Air Carrier
Association (NACA) took numerous actions to enhance safety both at National
Airlines and across the cargo industry.
we will hear what additional actions the FAA can take to prevent a recurrence
of the 2013 Bagram crash.
Managing Director Tom Zoeller will introduce the staff.