Pilot, co-pilot killed in fiery UPS cargo plane crash at Alabama airport

Pilot, co-pilot killed in fiery UPS cargo plane crash at Alabama airport

A large UPS cargo plane crashed early Wednesday morning near the airport in Birmingham, Ala., killing the pilot and co-pilot.

Investigators on the scene are now assessing the conditions of the aircraft, officials said.

“We are just at the very, very beginning stages of our investigation,” Robert Sumwalt, member of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Sumwalt added that investigators have not been able to recover the cockpit voice and flight data recorders as parts of the plane's fuselage are still smoldering. 

The pilot and co-pilot were the only people killed or injured in the fiery crash, Mayor William Bell said. Neighborhoods in a half-mile radius of the site were evacuated, he said.

The Airbus A306 from Louisville, Ky., crashed while making an approach to the airport, according to UPS.

There was no unusual weather before the crash, and it was unknown if there were any mechanical issues, Bell said.


"The cockpit area was severed from the rest of the plane," Gaynell Hendricks, chairperson of the Birmingham Airport Authority, told WVTM. "It's a grim site."

The aircraft involved in the crash had been delivered to UPS in 2003, according to a release from manufacturer Airbus. The plane had flown about 6,800 flights for an estimates total of 11,000 hours in the air. The plane was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, according to the release.

"The investigation remains the entire responsibility of the relevant authorities and it would be inappropriate to speculate into the cause of the accident," Airbus said in the release.