NTSB ejects IPA, UPS from flight 1354 crash case

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United Parcel Service (UPS) Airlines and the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) are no longer involved with the crash investigation of UPS flight 1354 because the US government’s National Transportation Safety Board says they breached an agreement.

On 14 August last year, at about 04.47h local time, UPS flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600, registration N155UP, crashed short of runway 18 while on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. Both crew were killed. NTSB says that UPS Airlines and the IPA both put their own analysis of the cause for the crash into the public domain.

The NTSB says, “that both IPA and UPS took actions prejudicial to the investigation by publicly commenting on and providing their own analysis of the investigation prior to the NTSB’s public meeting to determine the probable cause of the accident.”

UPS tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “We were surprised by the NTSB’s action. UPS is a company that takes regulatory compliance very seriously, and would not have knowingly violated NTSB regulations for information flow. As the flight 1354 investigation nears its end, what matters most is advancing aviation safety, and that’s what we’re focused on at this point.”

The IPA declined to respond to the NTSB decision to end its involvement in the investigation. However, the union tells ACW it will be prepared to comment after the NTSB investigation is ended. On its website a statement dated 13 August indicates the IPA views fatigue as a cause for the crash. In the statement IPA president, captain Robert Travis, says: “What we didn’t know then, but suspected, was the role fatigue played in this accident. Once the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcripts were released there was no doubt.” In the statement Travis refers to the two crew that were killed, captain Cerea Beal and first officer Shanda Fanning. “Cerea and Shanda told us on the CVR that they were fatigued and wanted one level of safety in commercial aviation.”

In its statement about excluding the IPA and UPS from the investigation, acting chairman, Christopher Hart, says: “NTSB investigations depend heavily upon technical input from the accident parties.” 

He adds that: “If one party disseminates information about the accident, it may reflect that party’s bias. This puts the other parties at a disadvantage and makes them less willing to engage in the process, which can undercut the entire investigation.”

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