BELLEVILLE, Mich. (AP) - The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it is sending a team of investigators to Afghanistan to assist local authorities with their investigation of a U.S. cargo airline crash that killed all seven crew members on board.
The plane, a Boeing 747-400 operated by National Air Cargo, crashed Monday just after takeoff from Bagram Air Base. The crew members were all American citizens, the board said. The accident site is within the perimeter of Bagram Air Base.
The international cargo flight was destined for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Afghanistan Ministry of Transportation and Commercial Aviation is leading the investigation.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for downing the plane, but NATO said later the claims were false, and there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time of the crash.
The team will be composed of three NTSB investigators, as well as representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, board said.
The plane - owned by National Airlines, an Orlando, Florida-based subsidiary of National Air Cargo - was carrying vehicles and other cargo, according to National Air Cargo Vice President Shirley Kaufman. She said those killed were four pilots, two mechanics and a load master, who was responsible for making sure that the weight and balance of the cargo is appropriate.
Five of the seven people who died were from Michigan, said Kaufman. The identities of those killed haven't been released.
National Airlines was based until recently at Michigan's Willow Run Airport, west of Detroit in Wayne County's Van Buren Township. It carries cargo both commercially and for the military, Kaufman said. She said the company employs about 225 people.