A McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63F freighter operated by US cargo carrier Kitty Hawk was substantially damaged on the early morning of 20 February when parts of two engine nacelles fell of the aircraft as it was performing its take-off rotation for a flight from Seattle Tacoma International Airport to Anchorage.
Kitty Hawk spokeswoman Heather Fedele says the DC-8-63F has been grounded since with "pretty significant damage" to its left wing after nacelle parts fell off the aircraft's number one and number two engines upon rotation.
The FAA began the investigation into the incident, but Seattle-based FAA spokesman Mitch Barker reveals that the US National Transportation Safety Board has since classified it as an accident because of the extent of the damage to the aircraft and has taken over the investigation.
Fedele says the crew of the DC-8 managed to continue the take-off and brought the aircraft back safely for an emergency landing. She adds that no-one on board was injured in the incident, although cannot confirm whether any other pilots were dead-heading on the aircraft in addition to the aircraft's normal crew of three.
Neither Fedele nor Barker can confirm the extent of the damage to the aircraft nor the size of the nacelle parts that fell off the two engines. No cause for the incident has yet been established.
Perusal of Airclaims' CASE database reveals that the DC-8-63F, registered N811CK and bearing the manufacturer's serial number 46147, was delivered new to Air Zaire in 1971 as a passenger aircraft but converted by that carrier to a freighter in 1980.
Kitty Hawk International - in its pre-takeover form of Kalitta Air Services/American International Airways - bought it from Air Zaire in 1990 and has operated the DC-8 since.