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UPS cargo plane crashes near Dubai airport

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Yahoo News

 

By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer – Fri Sep 3, 5:08 pm ET

 

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A UPS cargo plane with two crew members on board crashed shortly after takeoff Friday outside Dubai, officials said.

 

The state news agency WAM, quoting the General Civil Aviation Authority, reported that the "bodies of two pilots" had been found at the scene, but UPS did not confirm that.

 

The plane went down inside an Emirati air base near a busy highway intersection about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Dubai's international airport. WAM said the crash occurred in an unpopulated desert area, suggesting there may not have been casualties on the ground.

 

Smoke rose from the crash site, which was shielded from the highway by walls. Migrant laborers from a nearby camp gathered along the roadside to watch.

 

UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said the Boeing 747-400 — which has a wingspan of 212 feet (64.6 meters) and length of 232 feet (70.7 meters) — went down at about 8 p.m. in Dubai (12 p.m. EST). Flight 6 was en route to the UPS hub in Cologne, Germany, she said. Petrella said the plane had two crew members but the company has not confirmed any casualties.

 

Two U.S. aviation experts said the plane had taken off and then turned around and was returning to land when the accident took place. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.

 

UPS, an Atlanta-based company formally known as United Parcel Service Inc. and the world's largest shipping company, dispatched an investigation team to the scene.

 

A Dubai-based spokesman for the General Civil Aviation Authority, Ismail al-Baroushi, said an investigation was under way, but it was "too early to speculate" on the cause of the crash. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz also said the U.S. agency will send a team of experts to Dubai to assist with the investigation.

 

A witness, who refused to give his name, said he was sitting on the balcony of his home when he heard a "big boom."

 

"There was fire and too much smoke," he said.

 

In October 2009, a Sudanese Boeing 707 cargo plane crashed in the desert outside Dubai after taking off from Sharjah airport north of Dubai, killing six crew members. Emirati regulators have banned the plane's Sudanese owner, Azza Transport, from operating in the country.

 

There are about 300 747 freighters in service, carrying about half the world's air cargo.

 

UPS planes have been involved in four accidents since 1985, none fatal, according to an aviation safety database. The most recent involved a fire that broke out in the cargo hold of a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 en route from Atlanta to Philadelphia. Smoke was billowing from the plane when it landed, but the three pilots were able to evacuate safely, said the database, maintained by the Flight Safety Foundation of Alexandria, Va.

 

In 2005, pilot error cause the nose gear of a McDonnell Douglas MD-11F to collapse during a landing in Anchorage, causing $10 million in damages to the plane.

 

Prior to Friday's accident, five major airline accidents have been linked to Dubai Airport since 1973, with no fatalities, according to the database. The most recent was on March 12, 2007, when a Biman Bangladesh Airlines Airbus A310 with 236 passengers and crew members aborted a takeoff. The plane came to rest at the end of the runway with a collapsed nose gear.

 

___

 

Associated Press Airlines Writer Samantha Bomkamp in New York and AP writers Michael Casey in Dubai and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.

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From Air Transport World

 

The UPS 747-400 freighter that crashed 50 min. after takeoff from Dubai International Friday attempted to return to the airport after its pilots reported "smoke in the cockpit" and that they were "unable to maintain altitude," according to a preliminary report issued by crash investigators Sunday.

 

Both pilots were killed when the aircraft went down in an "unpopulated area between the Emirates Road and Al Ain Highway" near the airport, said the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, which is leading the crash investigation. The aircraft was en route to Cologne but its pilots sent a message that they were returning to Dubai about 7:15 p.m. local time, or 22 min. after takeoff.

 

"The UAE ATC Centre issued a clearance [for the returning 747 to land] when aircraft was approximately 40 km. from touchdown," GCAA stated. "The aircraft was high on the approach and was at 8,500 ft. at 24 km. from touchdown. It passed overhead the airfield very high and made a right turn...The aircraft tracked southwest and rapidly lost altitude. At approximately [7:42 p.m. local time], radar contact was lost."

 

GCAA said Sunday it had recovered the cockpit voice recorder and was searching for the flight data recorder.

 

"This is a terrible tragedy, and all of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both of these crewmembers," UPS CEO Scott Davis said. The company identified the pilots as Capt. Doug Lampe of Louisville and First Officer Matthew Bell of Sanford, Fla. Both were based at UPS Airlines' Anchorage domicile.

 

According to UPS, the aircraft's tail number was N571UP. It took delivery of the freighter from Boeing in September 2007. "The airframe had flown 9,977 hours, completing 1,764 takeoffs and landings," it noted. "It was up to date on all maintenance, having just completed a major inspection in June 2010." One of 12 747-400Fs in UPS's fleet, the CF6-80C2B1F-powered aircraft had a payload capacity of nearly 258,000 lbs.

 

The US National Transportation Safety Board designated Senior Air Safety Investigator Bill English to lead a team of specialists to Dubai to assist GCAA with its inquiry. Included on the team are technical advisors from US FAA, Boeing, UPS, GE Aviation and the Independent Pilots Assn. union.

 

According to Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network, the weather at the time of the accident was clear. Wind was at 6 knots, visibility was 8,000 m. and the ceiling was "unlimited."

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Tragedy.

 

Way too early to speculate on anything but the dubious smoke in the cabin and loss of avionics both forward are not good signs. The high approach leaves you to wonder if they weren't seeing three green down and locked with their tanks full of fuel. Definitely a lot to manage even for two very experienced 47 drivers. Usually when things go wrong in such a redundant platform they're unrecoverable. Makes me always wonder why the SOP for a two crew bird with no passengers wouldn't have been to punch out while putting the aircraft into the Persian Gulf. FC what's Fred's policy?

 

E

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Well, the symptoms sound like an electrical fire.

 

If I remember correctly, the typical time from when an electrical fire is first detected to when the aircraft is unrecoverable is 15 minutes. We try to train to that standard.

 

Pretty much the rule is if you think you have an internal fire of any sort is to get the aircraft on the ground right the hell now. Right now, like most cargo jets, only the lower holds can be actively fought with halon. The upper (main) cargo deck actions are to cut off the air supply. However, we have been testing 2 things...one is a cargo cover for individual pallets that is very fire resistant and can hold heat in. The other for the 'cans' is an overhead halon system that if it detects a fire will slam a pipe into the top of the 'can' and fill it with halon.

 

However, there is nothing that can be done for an electrical fire...far as I know other than trying to de-energize the electrical bus that has the short/fire...but usually you don't have the time to troubleshoot.

 

Honestly, an electrical fire scares me more than anything else a large airliner can be stricken with...because other than getting the jet on the ground, there is nothing than can be done about it.

 

FC

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Well my point exactly and I'm not saying I'd like to punch out of a 47 ahead of those big fans but it's a strong argument for a decent evac plan on cargo birds.

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Absolutely deliberate. You don't put that many hours in a big girl like that and not know when she's not coming back.

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Interesting. I'm not sure how feasible that would be.

 

We're taught to more than likely expect an aircraft break up during a ditching situation. Unless I had no other option (ie no landing strips available within 15 minutes) I'd probably shoot for an airfield somewhere because there would hopefully be fire and rescue support.

 

FC

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