Bagram Investigation Suggests Cargo Shift

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Investigators in Afghanistan have discovered evidence that may support the widely held theory that shifting cargo caused the crash of a National Air Cargo Boeing 747-400 in late April near the airfield at Bagram. The New York Times reported Monday that the heavy military vehicles hit the back of the aircraft so hard on takeoff that parts broke off the plane and were left on the runway. Cockpit voice recorder copied the pilot's last words as "Wait, wait," but there is also speculation that it was actually "Weight, weight," the pilot was saying. Investigators also found the charred remains of some cargo straps that were cut but there is no way to tell if they were the cause or an effect of the tragedy.

The crash killed seven Americans, six from Michigan and the other from Louisville. The aircraft had three armored trucks and two minesweeping vehicles weighing a total of 80 tons onboard. It was flying to the seaport at Dubai where they were to be offloaded onto ships. On May 17 the FAA issued a notice to civilian operators in the region reminding to make sure their cargoes were secure before takeoff.