Aircraft Accidents and Legitimizing Loadmasters

More than two years after the disaster of the National Airlines B747 crash in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the FAA is finally moving into a solution that holds water. A team is looking into a Certification of “Special” Loadmasters, the people responsible for the restraining of cargo on charter flights on cargo airliners.
Having myself worked Loadmaster duty, I know the cargo airlines have mostly been ignored, especially by the NTSB, who during the years I worked for them were largely unconcerned with cargo accidents because the of the low body count, e.g. Emery 17, 2000. But in light of the National Airlines tragedy and the fact that its last moments were so dramatically caught on video, the FAA and NTSB have taken a strong stand to increase the safety of these airliners. Even with the terrific crash of Fine Air flight 101 in 1997, the focus should have been directed at these airlines. I offered my services to the Board, having worked for a cargo airline for 20 years, but was ignored largely because of the lack of attention these airline accidents incur.
These Loadmaster positions are fluid; changes to the types of cargo being flown becomes increasingly difficult, especially for the military charters. Civil cargo airliners fly everything from helicopters to heavy trucks, but the training doesn’t shadow; some of these loadmasters are behind the curve, especially when they are contractors, who are expected to stay up to speed.
It’s about time the FAA got behind increasing Loadmaster training. Maybe, tragically, National Airlines was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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