UPS Airlines Flight 6
N571UP, the aircraft involved, seen on approach in Dubai in November 2008.
|Date||September 3, 2010|
|Summary||In-flight cargo fire|
|Site||Nad Al Sheba Military camp, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
|Aircraft type||Boeing 747-44AF/SCD|
|Flight origin||Dubai International Airport|
|Destination||Cologne Bonn Airport|
UPS Airlines Flight 6 was a cargo flight operated by UPS Airlines. On September 3, 2010, a Boeing 747-400 flying the route between Dubai International Airport and Cologne Bonn Airport developed an in-flight fire, with the fumes and subsequent crash resulting in the death of the two crewmembers. The aircraft had departed Dubai International earlier, but returned after reporting smoke in the cockpit. It was the first fatal air crash for UPS Airlines. The crash caused an examination of safety procedures protecting airliners from cockpit smoke.
The aircraft involved in the accident was a Boeing 747-400F, registered N571UP and was delivered to UPS Airlines in 2007. It had flown for a total of 9,977 hours, and had a major inspection performed in June 2010. Before the crash, it was among the newest (#1,393 of 1,418; the 26th from the last) Boeing 747-400s built.
Flight 6 departed from Dubai International at 14:53 UTC and at 15:15 the crew reported a fire in the cockpit when the aircraft was around 120 nautical miles (220 km) west-northwest of Dubai, and declared an emergency. The pilots were under the control of Bahrain's air traffic control, and they could not initially contact Dubai air traffic control due to a radio failure. Although they were offered a diversion to Doha, Qatar, the pilots returned to Dubai, and were instructed to land on the airport's runway 12L. The aircraft was too high on the approach and passed over the airport before making a tight turn; radar contact was lost shortly thereafter at 15:42 UTC. The aircraft crashed in an unpopulated area between the Emirates Road and Al Ain Highway, barely missing Dubai Silicon Oasis. Many initial reports other than ATC came from pilots working for Emirates Airlines who were living in the community.
The captain, 48-year old Doug Lampe of Louisville, Kentucky, and the first officer, 38-year old Matthew Bell from Sanford, Florida, died. Both crew members were based in UPS's Anchorage, Alaska pilot base.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would dispatch an aviation investigator to assist the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in its investigation of the crash. Boeing offered to send a team to the United Arab Emirates to provide technical assistance in the investigation process.
Following the recovery of the cockpit voice recorder, the GCAA issued a preliminary report on the September 5, 2010. On September 7, the authorities discovered the flight data recorder. The government of Bahrain decided to conduct its own investigation into the accident. UPS also sent its own investigation team. The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were sent to the United States for analysis by the National Transportation Safety Board on September 10, 2010.
As of September 8, 2010, the GCAA and UPS did not comment on the progress of the investigation. According to Associated Press sources, people familiar with the investigation said that the fire may have started in the cargo compartment. The investigators are checking the cargo to determine what was loaded on the aircraft. On September 8, 2010 the head of the GCAA, director general Saif al Suwaidi, said that it was too early to determine exactly what the cause of the crash was.
The investigation revived safety concerns about the effects of smoke in the cockpit. The crash also revived concerns over whether smoke hoods should be allowed in the cockpit. Prior to the crash of UPS Flight 6, debate over whether manufacturers and regulators had been doing enough to prevent airborne fires had occurred. Around the time of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board had asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to install automatic fire extinguisher systems in the holds of cargo aircraft. UPS Airlines followed FAA regulations, which stated that pilots should depressurize the main cabin and climb to an altitude of at least 20,000 feet (6,100 m) upon detection of a fire so as to deprive the flames of oxygen.
On September 23, 2010, the GCAA reported that 100% of the material contained in the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder was successfully downloaded by the NTSB and that the data was being analyzed. In October 2010, Boeing announced that fire indication checklists were to be modified to instruct pilots that at least one of the three air conditioning systems must be left in operation in order to prevent excessive smoke accumulation on the flight deck.
In November 2010, a U.S. government official said that investigators so far had not found any connections to terrorism in regards to the crash. On November 5, 2010, Al Qaeda's Yemen wing, the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, took responsibility for Flight 6's crash as part of the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot.
On September 24, 2013, the GCAA released its comprehensive, 322-page report on the crash, which found “with reasonable certainty” that the fire which caused the crash originated in a cargo container which held thousands of lithium batteries. The report made more than thirty recommendations for safety improvements, including improvements to systems that warn pilots of cargo hold fires, and use of additional systems to improve pilot visibility during aircraft fire scenarios.
In October 2010, the FAA issued a Safety Alert for Operators highlighting the fact that the cargo on board Flight 6 contained a large quantity of lithium-ion batteries and that Halon 1301 was inefficient in fighting fires involving them. The FAA issued a restriction on the carrying of lithium batteries in bulk on passenger flights.
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- http://avherald.com/h?article=4307772e&opt=0 location of crash site
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- General Civil Aviation Authority
- Final report (Archive)
- Interim Report (Archive)
- Preliminary Report (Archive)
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- "GCAA eliminates the possibility of an onboard explosion regarding the crash of UPS Boeing 747 – 400 Cargo investigation." October 31, 2010. (Alt)
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- "Statement on Aircraft Accident." (Archive) – United Parcel Service