A UPS Airbus A300-600, registration N155UP (msn 841) performing freight flight 5X-1354 from Louisville, Kentucky, to Birmingham, Alabama, crashed while on approach to Birmingham’s airport, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed.
UPS confirmed that it had been notified of the incident, but had no further details. “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 reported that two crew members were onboard the plane, but there was no immediate information on their status.
The crash caused at least two explosions, throwing debris across the area. Reports say the plane went down on the outskirts of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, in an open field that is just outside the perimeter fence of the airport. The crash has not affected airport operations, a spokeswoman says.
The NTSB reported that it is launching a full Go-Team to investigate this morning crash. Senior Aviation Investigator Dan Bower will serve as investigator-in-charge. NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt is accompanying the team and will serve as the principal spokesman during the on-scene phase of the investigation.
Update 1: UPS confirms identity of crew members
(UPS Press release) The Jefferson County, Alabama, Medical Examiner has confirmed that two of our crew members, Captain Cerea Beal, Jr. and First Officer Shanda Fanning, lost their lives in the accident involving UPS Flight 1354.
Captain Beal, a resident of Matthews, N.C., was 58 years old. He has been with UPS since 1990. Capt. Beal served more than six years in the Marines as a heavy lift helicopter pilot.
First Officer Fanning, a resident of Lynchburg, Tenn., was 37 years old. She has been with UPS since 2006. First Officer Fanning was active and well-known in the community of Lynchburg. She was known for being an aviation enthusiast.
The UPS Family Assistance Team is providing support to the crew members’ families during this difficult time. The entire UPS family sends our condolences and will keep the Beal and Fanning families in our thoughts and prayers.
Update 2: Recorders
NTSB investigators were able to retrieve data on Friday from flight recorders pulled from the wreckage of the UPS cargo plane, which could shed light on Wednesday’s crash in Alabama that killed both pilots onboard.
“We do have good data,” said National Transportation Safety Board spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.
The recorders arrived at the NTSB’s headquarters in Washington late on Thursday, hours after they were pulled from a heap of melted plastic and debris at the crash site. Preliminary results from the agency’s investigation, which is still in its early stages, have shown no evidence of engine fire, and the pilots did not issue a distress call.