The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the fatal crash of a Fine Air McDonnell Douglas DC-8 freighter at Miami International on 7 August last year was due to misloading of cargo that escaped the attention of the US all-cargo carrier and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Investigators say large cargo pallets were switched around to make them fit into the Dominican Republic-bound cargo aircraft, without the flightcrew's knowledge.

The new arrangement put heavier cargo in the rear, shifting its centre of gravity. The DC-8 pitched nose-up on take-off, stalled and crashed onto a street, killing all four on board and a motorist.

The NTSB says that Fine Air did not supervise cargo loading and that the FAA contributed by not ensuring the safety checks for cargo loading and did not correct other known cargo-related deficiencies. It also says the FAA should require checklists to verify proper loading, and recommends that flightcrews be better trained to handle unanticipated pitch mistrim conditions on take-off.

Source: Flight International