Pilots identified in Birmingham UPS cargo plane crash - CBS46 News

Pilots identified in Birmingham UPS cargo plane crash

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The pilots of a United Parcel Service of America, Inc. cargo plane that crashed in Birmingham, AL, on Wednesday morning have been identified.

UPS Flight 1354, an A300 en route from Louisville, KY, to Birmingham, AL, crashed on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport around 5 a.m. EST. The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilots did not send out a distress call.

One of the pilots has been identified by family members as Shanda Fanning from Lynchburg, TN, according to WAVE in Louisville, KY.

Fanning was part of the family that runs the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, according WAVE. The WAVE story said Jack Daniels employees were notified of the tragedy in a meeting on Wednesday.

According to a relative of Cerea Beal Junior, Beal was the second pilot killed in the crash Wednesday morning.

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

The plane crashed approximately a half-mile north of Runway 18 in a field near 19th Avenue North and North East Lake Boulevard.

According to the website FlightAware, the plane descended about 7,000 feet in a minute.

Kit Darby is an aviation expert with more than 30 years of experience.

"When they got down closer to the airport they found themselves too high and too fast and they really made a very steep descent," said Darby.

"It appears the aircraft went through some trees and then initially impacted towards the bottom of the hill where the fireball, evidence of fire and then up the hill and came to a final resting point," said Robert Sumwalt, with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane split in half from the impact as it crashed. Flames and smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles away.

No one on the ground was hurt, but debris fell on houses in a nearby neighborhood.

Chris Brookes, an assistant fire chief of operations with Birmingham Fire and Rescue, said he believes the wreckage to be spread over a distance of about a half-mile.

"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," Nichols said.

UPS released the following statement:

"UPS has been notified of an aircraft incident involving Flight 1354, an Airbus A300 flying from Louisville, KY to Birmingham, AL. At this time, we are still determining the details of the incident. We will release more information as it becomes available. As we work through this difficult situation, we ask for your patience, and that you keep those involved in your thoughts and prayers."

Before Wednesday, the most recent UPS plane crash came in 2010. Two pilots died when a cargo flight caught fire and crashed outside Dubai.

The final report on that crash, issued just last month, determined lithium batteries in the cargo hold caused the fire.

Airbus, the company that made the plane, issued the following statement:

"Airbus regrets to confirm that an A300-600F operated by UPS was involved in an accident shortly after 9-50 utc, at Birmingham- Alabama today 14-08-2013. The aircraft was operating a scheduled service, Flight 1354, from Louisville, KY to Birmingham AL.

"The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under the number N155UP was MSN 841, delivered to UPS from the production line in 2003. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 11000 flight hours in some 6800 flights. It was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. At this time no further factual information is available.

"In line with the ICAO Annex 13 international convention, Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the French BEA as well as to the authorities who will be responsible for the accident investigation. A team of specialists from Airbus is being dispatched to Alabama.

"The A300-600F is a freighter twin-engine widebody. The first A300-600F freighter entered service in 1983. By the end of June 2013, 104 A300-600F were in service.

"Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed. However, the investigation remains the entire responsibility of the relevant authorities and it would be inappropriate for Airbus to enter into any form of speculation into the cause of the accident.

"The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident of Flight 1354."

CBS Atlanta News has a crew in Birmingham and CBSAtlanta.com will have more information as it becomes available.

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