UPS Airlines Flight 1354

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UPS Airlines Flight 1354
Nose and forward section of UPS 1354.jpg
The wreckage of N155UP at the crash site
DateAugust 14, 2013 (2013-08-14)
Summary Controlled flight into terrain due to pilot error
SiteNorth of Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, Alabama, United States
33°35′2.061″N86°44′51.9822″W / 33.58390583°N 86.747772833°W / 33.58390583; -86.747772833 Coordinates: 33°35′2.061″N86°44′51.9822″W / 33.58390583°N 86.747772833°W / 33.58390583; -86.747772833
Aircraft type Airbus A300F4-622R
Operator UPS Airlines
IATA flight No.5X1354
ICAO flight No.UPS1354
Call signUPS 1354
Registration N155UP
Flight origin Louisville International Airport, Kentucky, United States
Destination Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, Alabama, United States

UPS Airlines Flight 1354 was a scheduled cargo flight from Louisville, Kentucky, to Birmingham, Alabama. On August 14, 2013, the Airbus A300 flying the route crashed and burst into flames short of the runway on approach to Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport. [1] [2] Both pilots were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. They were the only people aboard the aircraft. [3]


Aircraft and crew

N155UP, the aircraft involved in the accident UPS Airlines A300 N155UP.jpg
N155UP, the aircraft involved in the accident

The aircraft involved in the accident was an Airbus A300F4-622R, registered as N155UP. It was built in 2003; UPS took delivery of it in February 2004. [4] It was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. At the time of the accident, it had accumulated approximately 11,000 flight hours in 6,800 flight cycles (a flight cycle is one takeoff and landing). [5] :19–33 [6]

The captain of Flight 1354 was 58-year old Cerea Beal, Jr. [7] Prior to being hired by UPS, Beal was employed by TWA as a flight engineer and then first officer on the Boeing 727. He was hired by UPS in October 1990 as a 727 flight engineer and became a 727 first officer in August 1994. [5] :11 Twice, in 2000 and again in 2002, Beal began and then withdrew from training to upgrade to captain on the 727. [5] :11 [8] He transitioned to the A300 as a first officer in 2004 and then as a captain in 2009. At the time of the accident, he had accumulated 6,406 flight hours at UPS, 3,265 of which were on the A300. [5] :10–14

The first officer was 37-year-old Shanda Fanning. [9] Fanning was hired by UPS in 2006 as a 727 flight engineer. She became a first officer on the Boeing 757 in 2007, then transitioned to the Boeing 747 in 2009. She began flying the A300 in June 2012. At the time of the accident, she had accumulated 4,721 total flight hours, including 403 hours on the A300. [5] :15–18


The aircraft crashed at about 04:47 local time (CDT, 09:47 UTC) while making a localizer non-precision approach to runway 18 at Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport. It clipped trees and struck ground three times uphill. The fuselage broke apart, with the nose coming to rest about 200 yards (180 m; 600 ft) away from the initial point of impact, and the rest of it about 80 yards (70 m; 240 ft) farther down towards the runway and about 1 kilometer (0.6 mi; 0.5 nmi) from its edge and catching fire. Both pilots were killed. [5] :1–9 [2] [10]


NTSB investigators examine the wreckage at the crash site NTSB investigators Clint Crookshanks and Steve Magladry examining wreckage from UPS flight 1354 (9518979864).jpg
NTSB investigators examine the wreckage at the crash site

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation and sent a 26-member "go team" to the crash site to "collect perishable evidence". At a press conference held later on the same day, the NTSB said they had been unable to recover the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) as the tail section (where the recorders are housed) was still on fire. [10] Both recorders were recovered on the following day, and were sent for analysis. [5] :37 [11]

At their third media briefing on August 16, 2013, the NTSB reported that the crew had briefed the approach to runway 18 and were cleared to land by air traffic control two minutes prior to the end of the recording. 16 seconds before the end of the recording, the aircraft's ground proximity warning system (GPWS) sounded two "sink rate" alerts, meaning that the aircraft was descending too rapidly. Three seconds later, Captain Beal reported having the runway in sight, which was confirmed by First Officer Fanning. The CVR recorded the sound of the first impact with trees 3 seconds after the pilots reported seeing the runway. A final "too low terrain" alert by the GPWS was then recorded, followed by the final sounds of impact. [5] :8 [2] [12]

To represent the country of manufacture, the French aviation accident investigation agency BEA, assisted by Airbus technical advisors, participated in the investigation. [13] Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team also assisted the NTSB. [14] The NTSB stated in late August that no mechanical anomalies had yet been uncovered, but that the complete investigation would take several months. [15]

On February 20, 2014, the NTSB held a public hearing in connection with its investigation. Excerpts from the cockpit voice recorder were presented, in which both the captain and first officer discussed their lack of sufficient sleep prior to the flight. [16] The same day, the entire CVR transcript was released.

On September 9, 2014 the National Transportation Safety Board announced that the probable cause of the accident was that the aircrew had made an unstabilized approach into Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport during which they failed to adequately monitor their altitude. The aircraft descended below the minimum descent altitude when the runway was not yet in sight, resulting in controlled flight into terrain approximately 3,300 feet (1,010 m; 1,100 yd) short of the runway threshold. The NTSB also found that contributing factors in the accident were:

  1. the flight crew's failure to properly configure and verify the flight management computer for the profile approach;
  2. the captain's failure to communicate his intentions to the first officer once it became apparent the vertical profile was not captured;
  3. the flight crew's expectation that they would break out of cloud at 1,000 feet above ground level [due to incomplete weather information];
  4. the first officer's failure to make the required minimums callouts;
  5. the captain's performance deficiencies, likely due to factors including, but not limited to, fatigue, distraction, or confusion, consistent with performance deficiencies exhibited during training, and;
  6. the first officer's fatigue due to acute sleep loss resulting from her ineffective off-duty time management. [5] [1] [17]


NTSB hearing, September 2014 NTSB board meeting on the crash of UPS flight 1354 (15167281586).jpg
NTSB hearing, September 2014

In 2014, the Independent Pilots Association filed suit against the FAA to end the cargo airplane exemption from the flight crew minimum rest requirements. [18] In 2016 the lawsuit was dismissed by a Washington, DC court, which determined the FAA had acted reasonably by excluding cargo airlines from the rest requirement based on a cost vs benefits analysis. [19]

Bret Fanning, husband of first officer Shanda Fanning, filed a lawsuit against Honeywell Aerospace in 2014, alleging that its ground proximity warning system installed on the A300 failed to alert the pilots that their aircraft was dangerously close to the ground. [20] Fanning claimed that the GPWS did not sound an alarm until one second after the aircraft began to clip the tops of trees; [20] however, the NTSB determined from the aircraft's flight data recorder that the GPWS sounded a "sink rate" warning when the aircraft was 250 feet above the ground, 8 seconds before the first impact with trees. [5] :7–8

See also

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PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from websites or documents ofthe National Transportation Safety Board.

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