BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A UPS cargo jet crashed and erupted into flames a half-mile from the airport in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday morning.
The two pilots on board died in the crash, according to law enforcement sources at the scene.
The plane had taken off from Louisville and was on final approach to Birmingham International Airport at 6:10 a.m. when it went down, according to authorities.
The TSA said they believed the pilot and copilot were the only individuals on board with the cargo. The National Transportation Safety Board launched an immediate investigation into the crash, announcing that they would send a full "Go Team" of investigators to Birmingham.
"The NTSB investigation will be led by our lead investigator in charge, Dr. Dan Bower, accompanied by experts in the area of structures, power plants, systems, air traffic control, human performance, aircraft performance, and a number of disciplines," said Robert W. Sumwalt, a board member of the NTSB who spoke in Washington, D.C., before boarding a plane to Birmingham this morning.
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"Also accompanying the go team will be representatives from NTSB's office of transportation disaster assistance, who will be assisting those with family-related matters," he said.
The team is expected to arrive in Birmingham by noon to begin their work.
Sumwalt said that he would not be able to speculate on the cause or details of the crash without seeing the wreckage first, but noted that the NTSB has been very successful at recovering black box recorders from aircrafts in the past and hoped to be able to do with the UPS plane.
The plane, an Airbus A300, was manufactured in 2004. The plane was said to be carrying a mixture of heavy cargo and freight and small packages.
It was unclear what caused the crash. Near 6 a.m., the airport had visibility of 10 miles and a cloud ceiling of 700 feet.
"This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," said UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols.
"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," continued Nichols.
The company said that family members seeking information on the crash should telephone 800-631-0604.