Kalitta Air

Kalitta Air is an American cargo airline headquartered in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan.[2][3] It operates international scheduled and ad-hoc cargo charter services. Its main base is Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti.[4] Its callsign "Connie" is from its founder Connie Kalitta.

Kalitta Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
  • 1967 (as American International Airways)
  • 2000 (current name)
AOC #KCSA712A[1]
SubsidiariesKalitta Charters
Fleet size35
Destinations25 (scheduled)
HeadquartersYpsilanti Township, Michigan, USA
Key peopleConrad Kalitta


In 1967 Conrad "Connie" Kalitta began a business carrying car parts using a twin engine Cessna 310 that he piloted. It became American International Airways. AIA started flying in 1984 using Boeing 747, Lockheed L-1011, Douglas DC-8, Twin Beech and Learjet aircraft, for air freight, air ambulance and charter passenger operations. The American International Airways name was also used by a scheduled passenger airline which in 1984 was operating a hub located at the Philadelphia International Airport with nonstop service to Atlantic City, Boston, Chicago Midway Airport, Cleveland, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Norfolk, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Tampa and West Palm Beach flown with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets.[5]

During the late 1980s, the Kalitta brand name continued to appear on many of the company's cargo aircraft. In 1990 and 1991, AIA flew 600 missions in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

In 1997, AIA merged with Kitty Hawk Inc. and Conrad Kalitta resigned to start Kalitta Leasing for buying, selling and leasing large aircraft. In April 2000 Kitty Hawk International (the former AIA) ceased operations. Kalitta decided to rescue it and the new airline, Kalitta Air, began operations in November 2000, using the operating certificate and assets of the former airline.

On April 21, 2017 Kalitta Air retired its final Boeing 747-200F from service. This was one of the relatively few then remaining in service.

Kalitta Maintenance operates a large Maintenance, Repair And Overhaul facility at Oscoda–Wurtsmith Airport in Iosco County, Michigan, United States, bringing over 1000 jobs to the small Lake Huron Town of Oscoda.


The airline provides domestic and international scheduled or on-demand cargo service and support for the requirements of the Department of Defense Air Mobility Command.[6][7]

In January 2003, Kalitta Air announced the start of scheduled cargo flights from the United States to Europe. The freighters on this service operated from JFK (John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, USA) EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, USA)[6] and ORD (O’Hare, Chicago, USA) to AMS (Schiphol, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and EMA (East Midlands Airport, England). The airline flies scheduled cargo operations between the U.S. and Hong Kong, U.S. and Germany (Leipzig/Halle Airport), U.S. and Korea (for Asiana), Los Angeles and Honolulu. Liège Airport is also used as a regular refueling stop on New York City – Middle East routes, and in the Caribbean Norman Manley International Airport.

As of December 2012, Kalitta Air served the following destinations with cargo flights on a regular, scheduled basis:[8]

Hong Kong
South Korea
United Arab Emirates
United States
United Kingdom


Current fleet

The Kalitta Air fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of June 2019):[12]

Kalitta Air fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Notes
Boeing 747-400 2 Former Korean Air fleet
Boeing 747-400BCF 10 4 operating for DHL Aviation
Boeing 747-400ERF 1 Bought by Load Air (defunct), obtained by Kalitta Air
Boeing 747-400F 13 Former Cargolux, Korean Air Cargo, Nippon Cargo Airlines fleets
Boeing 767-300ER 1 Former TUIfly Nordic airlines fleet
Boeing 767-300ER/BDSF 7 Former Gulf Air, Transaero, Business Air fleets
Boeing 777F 1 Former Emirates SkyCargo
Total 35

Historical fleet

Incidents and accidents

  • On August 18, 1993, American International Airways Flight 808, a Douglas DC-8-61 (N814CK) with three crew members on board struck level terrain 1,400 feet west of the approach end of the runway while landing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The aircraft approached from the south and was making a right turn for runway 10 with an increasing angle of bank in order to align with the runway. At 200–300 feet AGL the wings started to rock towards wings level and the nose pitched up. The right wing appeared to stall, the aircraft rolled to 90-degree angle of bank and the nose pitched down. All 3 crew members survived with serious injuries, though the aircraft was completely destroyed by the impact and post-crash fire. Probable cause of the accident attributed primarily to the impaired judgment, decision-making, and flying abilities of the captain and flight crew due to the effects of fatigue resulting from extended flight/duty hours.[13] This accident was also featured in the 2019 Season 19 of Mayday/Air Crash Investigation Episode Titled "Borderline Tactics".
  • On October 20, 2004, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747 (N709CK), with five crew members on board, experienced mechanical difficulties with one of the four engines and diverted to land safely at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. No one was injured. It was discovered after landing that the number 1 engine had separated from the airplane as it climbed through 16,000 feet over Lake Michigan.[14] The engine was later recovered for inspection.
  • During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict (2nd Lebanon war) Kalitta Air made weapon supply flights from the United States to Israel, via Prestwick Airport in Scotland for refueling, without authority from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. Scotland's Crown Office considered, but eventually decided against, prosecuting Kalitta Air for two July 2006 flights carrying laser-guided bombs.[15][16]
  • On May 25, 2008, a Boeing 747-209F/SCD (N704CK),[17][18] operating as Flight 207 overran runway 20 at Brussels Airport. The aircraft broke in three and came to a complete stop in a field bordering the runway. There were four crew members and one passenger on board, and no injuries were reported.[19][20] The aircraft destined for Bahrain International Airport was loaded with 76 tons of goods, half of which was diplomatic mail.[21] Belgian investigators announced that the accident was caused by the decision to reject the take-off 12 knots after passing V1 speed following a bird strike.[22][23] The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport had investigated the accident.[24]
  • On July 7, 2008, a Boeing 747-209B (N714CK), operating for Centurion Air Cargo as Flight 164 crashed shortly after departing from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá at 3:55 a.m. The aircraft was en route to Miami, Florida, with a shipment of flowers. After reporting a fire in the number 4 engine, the crew attempted the return to the airport. However, after engine number 1 failed as well, the aircraft could not maintain altitude and crashed near the village of Madrid, Colombia. The aircraft's empennage hit a ranch house, killing a 50-year-old man and his 13-year-old son who lived there (a report of this crash on Airdisaster.com indicated a third fatality on the ground). The flight deck separated from the remainder of the aircraft, and the crew of eight survived with light to serious injuries while the rest of the airframe was consumed by fire.[25][26][27][28]
  • On July 26, 2008, a Learjet 35, operating as Flight 66 declared an emergency, and it was later found that the pilot/crewmember whose transmissions got gradually slower, was suffering from hypoxia. He descended through 11,000 feet, and made a safe landing.

Media appearances

  • For the 1997 film Air Force One, the producers rented one of Kalitta's Boeing 747-212B aircraft N703CK and repainted it to replicate the iconic Air Force One livery.[29]
  • The TV program MythBusters featured one of Kalitta's Boeing 747s (tail number N700CK) in Episode 90: "Supersized Myths”, that originally aired on November 14, 2007. In this myth the build team revisited the myth of "Jet Taxi", the story of a taxi that got stuck behind a jet taking off resulting in the taxi flipping over due to the jet blast. This myth was found to be confirmed, in that a jet could flip a taxi as well as a school bus and a light aircraft. MythBusters featured another Kalitta Air 747 (tail number N709CK) in the episode "Storm Chasing Myths" that originally aired on October 13, 2010.
  • A Kalitta Air 747 was used to transport prestigious and exotic cars used in the 2014 Gumball 3000 rally from JFK Airport in New York to Prestwick Airport in Glasgow for the European leg of the rally.
  • The 2015 World Rallycross Championship broadcasts feature a Kalitta 747-222B (tail number N793CK)[30] carrying the competitors' cars for GAC, the logistics provider for that championship.[31]

See also


  1. "Federal Aviation Administration – Airline Certificate Information – Detail View". av-info.faa.gov. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  2. "Township Map Archived 2005-11-09 at the Wayback Machine." Ypsilanti Township. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  3. "Welcome to Kalitta Air." Kalitta Air. Retrieved on June 22, 2009.
  4. "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 99.
  5. http://www.departedflights.com, May 1, 1984 American International Airways route map
  6. "Aircraft Schedule". Kalitta Air. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  7. "Contracts from the United States Department of Defense". Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  8. Kalitta routes
  9. "Historical Flight Status".
  10. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201908040016.html
  11. "Boston Air Cargo Directory". Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  12. "Kalitta Air Fleet Details and History". www.planespotters.net. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  13. Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61 N814CK Guantánamo NAS (NBW)".
  14. Air Cargo Safety Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine October 2004
  15. America flouted law by flying bombs to Israel through Britain, Daily Mail, 7 October 2006
  16. Prestwick Airport arms flights prosecution ruled out, UK Airport News, 28 November 2006
  17. "Aircraft Data N704CK, 1986 Boeing 747-246F C/N 23391, 1980 Boeing 747-209F C/N 22299, 1972 Boeing 747–146 C/N 20528".
  18. "Aviation Photo Search".
  19. "Plane comes off Brussels runway". BBC News. 25 May 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  20.  This article incorporates public domain material from the National Transportation Safety Board website http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=DCA08RA063&rpt=fa.
  21. "Airplane breaks in two". de Redactie.be. 25 May 2008. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012.
  22. "Post-V1 abort after bird-strike destroyed Kalitta 747F". FlightGlobal.com. December 23, 2008.
  23. "Final report on the accident occurred on 25 may 2008 at brussels airport on a boeing b747-209f registered n704ck" (PDF). Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport Air Accident Investigation Unit. 10 July 2009.
  24. "FINAL REPORT ON THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED ON 25 MAY 2008 AT BRUSSELS AIRPORT ON A BOEING B747-209F REGISTERED N704CK." (Archive) FPS Transport Belgium. Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
  25. "US cargo plane crashes into Colombian house, 3 dead". AFP. 2008-07-07. Archived from the original on 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
  26. "US plane crashes into Colombian house". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  27. "Crash: Kalitta B742 at Bogota on Jul 7th 2008, engine fire, impacted a farm house". The Aviation Herald. 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
  28. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-209BSF N714CK Bogotá-Eldorado Airport (BOG)". Aviation Safety Network. 7 July 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  29. Larson, George C. (September 1997). "The Making of Air Force One". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  30. "N793CK Kalitta Air Boeing 747-222B(SF) – cn 23736 / 673".
  31. "GAC – GAC– Latest corporate news".
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