Pilot, co-pilot die in UPS cargo plane crash in Alabama

Pilot, co-pilot die in UPS cargo plane crash in Alabama

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Flashing lights from first-responders light the way to the plane crash site Flashing lights from first-responders light the way to the plane crash site
Blackened open field likely struck by UPS Flight 1354's crash Blackened open field likely struck by UPS Flight 1354's crash
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -

The pilot and co-pilot aboard a UPS A300 cargo plane died when the aircraft crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport early Wednesday morning.

UPS Flight 1354 -- a large cargo plane -- went down just short of the airport's perimeter fence about 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

There were no homes in the immediate area of the crash, said Toni Herrera-Bast, a spokeswoman for Birmingham's airport authority.

Herrera-Bast said the plane crashed in "open land" she described as a grassy field on the outskirts of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. FAA officials say the scene is about a half-mile north of Runway 18.

"The plane is in several sections," said Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who was briefed on the situation by the city's fire chief. "There were two to three small explosions, but we think that was related to the aviation fuel."

In a media briefing Wednesday afternoon, investigators said the wreckage was still too hot to recover the black boxes.

"The tail section of the aircraft is still smoldering, still smoking and for that reason we have not been able to get in a get the black boxes, if you will, the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder," said Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB.

NTSB investigators also confirmed that the ups pilot and co-pilot did not alert anyone to trouble aboard the plane before impact.

"This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," said UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols.

"We place the utmost value on the safety of our employees, our customers and the public. We will immediately engage with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation, and we will work exhaustively on response efforts," continued Nichols.
            
UPS will release more facts about this accident as they become available, but the NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will be the primary source of information going forward.

The FAA says the plane was en route from Louisville, KY, to Birmingham, AL.

Toni Bast, a spokeswoman for Birmingham's airport authority, said the crash site did not affect airport operations. Authorities say no bystanders were hurt during the crash.

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is located at 5900 Messer Airport Highway in Birmingham. City officials reportedly bought and demolished homes in the approach runway 18 in the last 10 years.

The cargo plane flew so low that it clipped treetops in a neighborhood. The roaring engines and explosions rattled homes and awakened frightened neighbors.

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