MK Airlines Flight 1602

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MK Airlines Flight 1602
The aircraft involved, four days prior to the accident.
Date14 October 2004
SummaryCrashed due to incorrect takeoff speed
Site Halifax Stanfield International Airport,
Enfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
44°51′44.7″N63°31′49.83″W / 44.862417°N 63.5305083°W / 44.862417; -63.5305083 Coordinates: 44°51′44.7″N63°31′49.83″W / 44.862417°N 63.5305083°W / 44.862417; -63.5305083
Aircraft type Boeing 747-244B/SF
Operator MK Airlines
Registration 9G-MKJ
Flight origin Bradley International Airport,
Windsor Locks, Connecticut, United States
Stopover Halifax Stanfield International Airport,
Enfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Destination Zaragoza Airport,
Zaragoza, Spain

MK Airlines Flight 1602 was an MK Airlines Boeing 747-200F cargo flight on a flight from Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Nova Scotia, Canada to Zaragoza Airport, Spain. It crashed on take-off in 2004, killing the crew of 7. [1] [2] [3] It was the fourth accident for MK Airlines, as well as the deadliest. [4]


Aircraft and crew

The Boeing 747-200 was originally manufactured for South African Airways in 1980 as ZS-SAR, making its first flight on 24 October of the same year, and being delivered on 6 November. [5] At some point during its service with SAA, ZS-SAR was converted to a freighter. On 11 November 1992, ZS-SAR was leased to Garuda Indonesia as 3B-NAS. Sometime before September 1995, the aircraft was returned to SAA, and in March 2000, was sold to MK Airlines as 9G-MKJ. [6] [7] [8]

The captain was Michael Thornycroft, who had been with MK Airlines since its establishment in 1990. He had 23,200 flight hours including 4,000 hours on the Boeing 747. Thornycroft also had dual South African-United Kingdom citizenships. The first officer was Gary Keogh, who had 8,537 flight hours and was described as a "competent" pilot and was "comfortable" with computers. The flight engineer was Peter Launder, who had 2,000 flight hours. There was also a relief captain and flight engineer. The relief captain was David Lamb, and the relief flight engineer was Steven Hooper, who had 1,600 and 1,990 flight hours respectively. [9] :4–6 The ground engineer was Mario Zhan, who held dual South African and German citizenships, and the loadmaster was Chris Strydom. Six of the seven crew members were from Zimbabwe; the seventh (Captain Thornycroft) was from South Africa. [10] [11]


At 00:03 local time, on 14 October 2004, MK Airlines Flight 1602 took off from Windsor-Locks-Bradley International Airport. The aircraft was loaded with a cargo of lawn tractors, and made an intermediate stop at Halifax at 02:12 to be loaded up with approximately 53,000 kilograms (53 t; 117,000 lb) of lobster and fish.

Flight 1602 taxied to Runway 24 (now assigned '23' designation), and the takeoff roll was commenced at 06:53:22. When the aircraft reached 130 knots (150 mph), the control column was moved aft to 8.4° to initiate rotation as the aircraft passed the 5,500-foot (1,700 m) mark of Runway 24; with 3,300 feet (1,000 m) left on the runway, the aircraft began to rotate. The pitch attitude stabilized briefly at approximately 9° nose-up, with an airspeed of 144 knots (166 mph). Because the 747 still had not lifted off the runway, the control column was moved further aft to 10°, and the aircraft responded with a further pitch up to approximately 11°; at this time, a tailstrike occurred. The aircraft was approximately at the 8,000-foot (2,400 m) mark and slightly left of the center-line. The control column was then relaxed slightly, to 9° aft. The pitch attitude stabilized in the 11° range for the next four seconds, and the tailstrike abated as a result. With approximately 600 feet (180 m) of runway remaining, the thrust levers were advanced to 92% and the engine pressure ratios (EPRs) increased to 1.60. With 420 feet (130 m) remaining, a second tailstrike took place. As the aircraft passed the end of the runway, the control column was 13.5° aft, pitch attitude was 11.9° nose-up, and airspeed was 152 knots (175 mph). The highest recorded nose-up pitch of 14.5° was recorded at one minute and two seconds after takeoff initiation after the aircraft passed the end of the runway at a speed of 155 knots (178 mph). The aircraft became airborne approximately 670 feet (200 m) beyond the paved surface and flew a distance of 325 feet (99 m). The lower aft fuselage then struck an earthen berm supporting an instrument landing system (ILS) localizer antenna 300 metres (980 ft) beyond the end of the runway, separating from the plane. The plane then headed forwards in a straight line for another 1,200 feet (370 m), breaking into pieces and bursting into flames when it struck the ground. [12]

Emergency response

Over 60–80 firefighters and 20 pieces of apparatus from Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency responded to the call. It took nearly three hours to extinguish the post-crash fire. [13]


An investigation into the crash revealed that the flight crew had used the incorrect speeds and thrust setting during the take-off attempt, with incorrect take-off data being calculated when preparing the flight (incorrect V speed calculation, as the result of the crew re-using a lighter take-off weight of 240,000-kilogram (530,000 lb) from the aircraft's previous take-off at Bradley, instead of the correct weight of 353,000-kilogram (778,000 lb). The official report blamed the company for serious non-conformances to flight and duty time, with no regulations or company rules governing maximum duty periods for loadmasters and ground engineers, resulting in increased potential for fatigue-induced errors. [9] [14]

MK Airlines disputed the findings, citing the fact that the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was too heavily damaged in the post-crash fire to yield any information. [15]

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  1. "Accident MK Airlines Flight 1602 B747 9G-MKJ". Airfleets aviation. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  2. "ACCIDENT DETAILS". Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  3. "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 10142004". 2 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2 January 2009. Retrieved 12 October 2020.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. Richer, Shawna (15 October 2004). "Jet crash in Halifax is fourth for airline". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  5. "ZS-SAR | South African Airways - A Complete History". 30 December 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  6. Accident descriptionfor Boeing 747-244BSF 9G-MKJ Halifax International Airport, NS (YHZ) at the Aviation Safety Network . Retrieved on 15 October 2018.
  7. "MK Airlines 9G-MKJ (Boeing 747 - MSN 22170) (Ex 3B-NAS ZS-SAR)". Airfleets aviation. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  8. "9G-MKJ MK Airlines Boeing 747-200(F)". Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  9. 1 2 "Reduced Power at Take-off and Collision with Terrain, MK Airlines Limited, Boeing 747-244SF 9G-MKJ, Halifax International Airport, Nova Scotia. Report Number A04H0004" (PDF). Transportation Safety Board of Canada. A04H0004. Retrieved 8 September 2010. (French version)
  10. "Widow returns to site of cargo plane crash". The Globe and Mail . Halifax. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  11. "7 Die In Canada Cargo Plane Crash". CBS News. Associated Press. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  12. "Some Progress in the Halifax 747 Freighter Crash - but the recovered CVR is Useless". The Halifax Herald Limited. Retrieved 19 January 2017 via International Aviation Safety Association.
  13. "Tragedy in Halifax-747 Cargo Jet Crashes-7 Dead - Topic". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  14. Kaminski-Morrow, David (4 July 2006). "Canada: 'Old data' led to October 2004 crash on take-off of MK Airlines 747 freighter". Flight Global. London. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  15. "Probe links crash to fatigue". The Globe and Mail. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
External images
Searchtool.svg Photos of the crashed airliner from (Archive)
Searchtool.svg Pre-crash photos of the airliner at