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UPDATE 8/15: UPS Airbus A300-600F Crashes in Birmingham

UPS Airbus A300-600F. Photo by NTSB / Flickr CC.

UPS Airbus A300-600F (N155UP) involved in the crash. Photo by NTSB / Flickr CC.

Initial story posted 08/14/13, scroll down for the most recent updates on UPS Flight 1354 crash.

Early this morning, an Airbus A300-600F operated by UPS crashed at Birmington Airport (BHM) killing both the pilot and co-pilot. UPS Flight 1354 was heading from Louisville, KY to BHM when it crashed short of runway 18.

At the time of the accident the weather seemed clear, and the NTSB has stated there were not any distress calls made from the aircraft.

UPS Airbus A300-600F. Photo by NTSB / Flickr CC.

UPS Airbus A300-600F. Photo by NTSB / Flickr CC.

Airbus has stated that the plane in question (MSN841) was delivered to UPS in 2003 and had about 11,000 flight hours (over 6,800 flights) at the time of the crash. They also state that they 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.”

One of the Pratt and Whitney engines of the UPS Airbus A300.

One of the Pratt and Whitney engines of the UPS Airbus A300. Image: NTSB / Flickr CC.

In a press release, UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols stated, “This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved.  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.”

Debris from the crashed UPS AIrbus A300.

Debris from the crashed UPS AIrbus A300. Image: NTSB / Flickr CC.

UPS FLIGHT 1354 PHOTOS AND VIDEO:

An Airbus A300-600F, similar to the one that crashed earlier today.

An Airbus A300-600F, similar to the one that crashed earlier today. Image: Patrick Cardinal / Flickr CC.

UPS A300 CRASH UPDATE 1 – 08/15:

The NTSB held a press conference a bit before 5:30pm EST and gave additional details about the crash.

  • The black boxes have not yet been found due to the amount of damage located around their location and smoldering debris.
  • The plane struck trees before crashing.
  • The NTSB stated that the cockpit ended up about 200yds from the initial impact location and that the center section, containing the wings, was located about 75-85yds closer to the runway.
  • Airbus A300 debris is scattered around the airport and even in surrounding homes.
  • We do not know at this time if there was any hazardous cargo.
  • There was 10 miles of visibility at the time of the accident.
  • Names of the pilots have not yet been released.
Debris from the UPS Airbus A300 crash.

Debris from the UPS Airbus A300-600F crash. Image: NTSB / Flickr CC.

UPS A300 CRASH UPDATE 2 – 08/16:

The NTSB held another press conference today sharing additional information:

  • The two black boxes were recovered. They were were previously difficult to locate due to fire and damage.
  • The boxes were quite damaged, but the NTSB is “cautiously optimistic” that they will still provide quality data.
  • The recorders are being sent to Washington DC to be inspected and they should know sometime tomorrow if the data is usable.
  • Their initial investigation has shown there is no sign of engine failure or fire before impact.
  • There is evidence that debris, such as dirt and wood, were ingested into the engines.
  • The runway used, 18, is the shorter of the two runways at 7,000 feet long. The longer 6/24 (which is almost 12,000 feet long) was closed at the time of the accident.
  • Runway 18 does not have an Instrument Landing System (ILS).

Investigators conducting initial examination of one of the recorders from UPS flight 1354 in the NTSB laboratory.

Investigators conducting initial examination of one of the recorders from UPS flight 1354 in the NTSB laboratory. Image: NTSB.

16 comments to UPDATE 8/15: UPS Airbus A300-600F Crashes in Birmingham

  • Adam Juriga

    Think you have the wrong Birmingham. It was BHM.

  • Bad-Air

    This was in US as Adam said, not BHX (England)!!

  • Rick Ames

    Does anyone know if an A300-600F is a glass cockpit / fly-by-wire aircraft? I used to fly into BHM frequently as a Capt for part 121 carrier flying A320 aircraft and recall that there is rising terrain north of the runway 18 at BHM and used to only have a non precision approach to that rwy. Also, as I recall, the VOR is not on the airport property. It used to be several miles from the airport center. A low vis; non-precision approach in IMC conditions at 5AM could be a challenge in a dark flight deck and non-glass airplane.

  • OA pilot 2

    A300/600 is a glass cockpit aircraft with conventional flight controls.What is questionable is why try a landing on a 2164 m runway with a wide body aircraft when runway 24/06 is 3658m long with an ILS approach. Fatigue?!!!!
    May God rest there souls and safe flights to all the rest of us.

  • farris

    my thoughts. . as an heavy aircraft. mechanic.. catastrophic mecanical failure. damn autospell

  • Hussam

    First, thank you for the information about the crash. My prayers to the families of the crew who lost their lives. May God help them to be patient and all of us. Amen. I hope the crash was not because too slow too low otherwise, this shows us that people do not learn from each other.

  • Sammy

    OA pilot-an article stated that the longer runway was closed for maintenance. It was their only option

  • Rich

    This make me wonder about proficiency? How often do the airlines shoot approaches without the aid of glide slope? I guess there’s also the optical illusion thing. One of our guys crash landed an MU2 in the snow next to the runways due to strange lighting. You almost want it to be a mechanic failure. The thought of professional pilots flying two good airplanes right into the ground (SFO) sucks. I guess the NTSB will figure it all out in time. I’m so sorry for their families and friends.

  • Mark

    The A300′s at UPS are not 100% glass cockpit.

  • Art Jones

    Fatigue a big factor. Also tower in many places is closed due to low traffic volume early in the morning. It is said the visibility was 10 miles. In my experience published weather is very stale this time of the day, official weather and what you really encounter are two quite different things. You wouldn’t like the pilot seat if you knew you can get prosecuted by FAA after landing in clear weather, while the official weather still in effect hours after the last observation was made, was not the actual weather. That is a generality, and probably doesn’t apply here, but what does apply is fatigue.

    Why different crew rest rules for box haulers? Who is really making the rules, FAA, or really the operators? Fatigue will explain the 20 degree misalignment, and the aircraft being low. Are the UPS pilots under pressure to 1. salvage bad approaches? 2. go a little lower to take a peek.

    Someone else may have made the main point, was the altimeter setting correct? If not, go again to the topic of fatigue.

  • Anonymous

    @OAPilot 2

    You should read into the information, The reason they were landing on that runway is that the other runway was notam closed for runway centerline lighting maintenance.

  • JD

    A300 has Flight Path vector mode to assist on visual approach..also when all else fails..you can build an approach in the FMS..prayers for all involved

  • Vinz

    Another question comes to me: what about pilots getting blind by laser spots from the ground ? In Europe, many safety warnings have been issued concerning this serious topic (and stupid/criminal behaviour).
    Did anyone hear about such lasers around BHM ?

  • A point interest is according to another report I read they had a very rapid descent rate of an average of 3450 FPM for the two minutes prior to the approach.

    I haven’t flown since the early 80′s and was never in heavies but even for a light aircraft that’s a huge sink rate. Is that normal for an aircraft like an A300?

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