Airbus A300-600F tail section burning after crash of UPS Flight 1354, delaying recovery of voice and data recorders

BURMINGHAM, Ala., 15 Aug. 2013. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have been unable to recover the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the smoldering tail section of the Airbus A300-600F that crashed in Burmingham, Ala.

Aug 15th, 2013
NTSB
NTSB

BURMINGHAM, Ala., 15 Aug. 2013. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have been unable to recover the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the smoldering tail section of the Airbus A300-600F that crashed in Burmingham, Ala.

NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt revealed this information during the first press conference related to the crash of UPS Flight 1354 on 14 Aug. 2013.

An NTSB “go-team” arrived on the scene at 11 am local time, performing “an overall initial assessment to begin planning the next steps of our investigation,” Sumwalt explained. He revealed the following factual information: UPS Flight 1354, a scheduled flight from Louisville, Ken., on an A300-600F (Freighter), registration N155UP, crashed while on approach to runway 18 at Burmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

“The NTSB has responded to the crash with a 26 member go-team, which consists of several groups—experts looking at aircraft structure, power plants, survival factors, human performance, systems, operations, air traffic control, weather,” Sumwalt added. “We will be looking at everything that may be relevant to the causation of this incident.

“From the initial ground impact – there were tree strikes prior to the initial ground impact – to the final resting point of the forward fuselage, which contains the cockpit area, that distance is about 200 yards. Another 75 or 80 yards past that, closer to the runway, that would be the part of fuselage that contained the wings and the tail section,” Sumwalt described. “That part of the aircraft, especially the over-wing portion, was extensively damaged by fire.

“The tail section is still smoldering, still smoking, and for that reason, we have not been able to get in and get the black boxes, if you will, the cockpit voice recorder the flight data recorder,” said Sumwalt, who is optimistic they will be able to recover those crash recorders.

Sumwalt emphasized that the NTSB team was in the “very beginning stages of the investigation.” Throughout next few days, NTSB investigators will be gathering factual information to find out what happened and why it happened to keep it from happening again.

The FBI evidence response team (ERT) is assisting, helping to compose a diagram the wreckage.

Sumwalt indicated that no distress call appears to have been made by the pilots, pending verification of that information. Neither of the two crewmembers survived the accident.

Maintenance records of aircraft have not yet been captured; the team in Alabama is gathering perishable information, info that disappears with the passage of time.

The NTSB is unaware whether the plane was carrying hazardous materials; they will look at the manifest.

In closing, Sumwalt thanked local and federal first responders and encouraged anyone who has debris in their yard from the crash to e-mail witness@ntsb.gov.

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