BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A flight recorder revealed that pilots of a UPS cargo jet that crashed short of a runway at Birmingham’s airport received warnings about their rate of descent seconds before impact, investigators said Friday.
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt told reporters during a briefing that a recorder captured the first of two audible warnings in the cockpit 16 seconds before the sound of an impact, either with trees or the ground.
The warnings indicated the A300 cargo plane was descending at a rate outside normal parameters given its altitude, Sumwalt said, but investigators haven’t made any determination on the actual cause of the crash into an Alabama hillside.
Sumwalt said investigators will analyze the airplane’s weight to determine whether it should have attempted a landing on the runway, the shorter of two runways at Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport.
The pilots, Capt. Cerea Beal, Jr., 58, of Matthews, N.C., and First Officer Shanda Fanning, 37, of Lynchburg, Tenn., were killed in the crash that happened before dawn Wednesday.