Nova Scotia

Crew fatigue cited in 2004 Halifax plane crash

Fatigue contributed to a fiery plane crash that killed seven people in Halifax two years ago, but the full story will never be known, investigators say.

Fatigue and a lack of trainingcontributed to a fiery plane crash that killed seven people in Halifax two years ago, but the full story will never be known, investigators say.

The Transportation Safety Board releasedits final report Thursday into the crash of the cargo-laden MK Airlines jet.

All seven crew members aboard the planewere killed whenit crashed on takeoff at the Halifax International Airport early in the morning on Oct. 14, 2004.

The Boeing 747 had arrived in Halifax from Connecticut to pick up a load of seafood and refuel before heading to Zaragosa, Spain.

But the plane —loaded with lobster, lawn tractors and computer gear —failed to gain enough speed as it taxied down the runway. The tail of the aircraft hit a berm, sendingthe planecrashing through the woods.

The cargo jet exploded in a quarry across the old Guysborough Road.

Flight recorder destroyed

The flight voice recorder was destroyed in the fire, TSB investigators said, so they'll never know exactly what happened.

However, they have determined that crew members had been awake for 20 hours at the time of takeoff, andthat fatigue likely contributed to errors in entering cargo weight on a flight computer.

The investigation also found that crew members had not beenformally trained on the software.

The crew didn't notice the error, investigators say, so with the calculationsbelow the true weightby tens of thousands ofkilograms, the plane was unable to take off.

"By putting the message out within the report and the findings about how fatigue can affect behaviour and influence crew actions, we feel … we've dealt with it adequately by highlighting it in the findings," TSB investigator Bill Fowler said.

Investigators are recommending that aviation regulators in Canada, the United States and Europe requiretransport planes to carry a device that would alert pilots when there's insufficient thrust to become airborne.

In a statement, MK Airlines said without the voice recorder, the TSB findings couldn't be called conclusive.

Family members of the victims have filed a civil lawsuit against the airline, which is managed from England but registered in Ghana.

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