Boeing 747 cargo plane breaks in two after failed takeoff at Brussels Airport

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A file photo of a Kallita 747 landing in Amsterdam's Schipol Airport

A Boeing 747 cargo plane has broken in two after crashing off the end of the runway at Brussels Airport near Zaventem, Belgium. Some reports say four of the five crew were slightly injured when the Kallita Air jumbo jet failed to takeoff on a flight to Bahrain, but others state no injuries.

Press images show the aircraft, which did not catch fire, broken immediately behind the wings, with the forward section level and the front end of the back section raised in the air. The right hand door has been opened and the emergency evacuation slide deployed by the crew, one of whom is in a state of shock. The area around the plane's wings was doused with specialist fire retardant foam as the tanks were full of fuel for the journey.

The force of the crash at 1:30 p.m. local time today sent the plane 300 meters beyond the end of the runway. Air operations have continued as normal on the airport's two other runways, but a nearby railway line is closed. Reports of the cargo on board vary, with one news agency reporting 70 tons of diplomatic mail, batteries and a car, while other reports state 76 tons of unspecified cargo.

It is unclear what caused the accident, but the pilot reported hearing a loud noise as the aircraft attempted to takeoff. Weather conditions were clear, and the airport had seen some light rain in earlier this morning.

Kalitta is a United States based carrier founded in 2000 by Conrad Kalitta with three 747s and now owns 18 including the one involved in today's accident.