UPS Airlines Flight 6
N571UP, the aircraft involved, seen in 2008
|Date||September 3, 2010|
|Summary||Crashed following in-flight cargo fire|
|Site||Nad Al Sheba Military camp, Dubai, United Arab Emirates |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 747-44AF/SCD|
|IATA flight No.||5X6|
|ICAO flight No.||UPS6|
|Call sign||UPS 6|
|Flight origin||Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|Destination||Cologne Bonn Airport, Germany|
UPS Airlines Flight 6 was a cargo flight operated by UPS Airlines. On September 3, 2010, the Boeing 747-400F flying the route between Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Cologne, Germany, developed an in-flight fire which caused the aircraft to crash, killing both crew members, the only people on board. It was the first fatal air crash for UPS Airlines. The crash prompted a re-evaluation of safety procedures protecting airliners from cockpit smoke.
History of the flight
Flight 6 departed from Dubai International Airport at 14:53 UTC on September 3, 2010, bound for Cologne Bonn Airport. At the controls were captain Douglas Lampe, 48, of Louisville, Kentucky, and first officer Matthew Bell, 38, from Sanford, Florida.
At 15:15 the EICAS message FIRE MAIN DK FWD appeared on the upper EICAS display, and the crew reported the fire in the cockpit when the aircraft was around 120 nautical miles (138 mi; 222 km) west-northwest of Dubai. An emergency was declared shortly afterwards. The pilots were under the control of Bahrain's air traffic control (ATC), and they could not initially contact Dubai ATC due to the thick smoke in the cockpit obscuring the radio panel. Although they were offered a diversion to Doha, Qatar, Captain Lampe made the decision to return to Dubai. The thick smoke required the pilots to communicate with nearby planes over VHF to relay messages to Bahrain ATC, as Bell was unable to see the radio through the smoke. The aircraft involved in relaying messages from UPS 6 included three Boeing 737-800s operated by flydubai, and the Dubai Royal Air Wing's own 747-400, callsign Dubai One.
Lampe elected to disengage the autopilot and fly the plane manually. Upon doing so, he discovered that he had no elevator control. The fire had burnt through the protective fire-resistant liner that covered the cargo hold and destroyed the primary flight control system, crippling the 747. At 15:20, Lampe's oxygen mask failed and he relinquished command of the plane to First Officer Bell. Lampe left his seat to get the Emergency Reserve Oxygen System (EROS) oxygen mask, which was stowed behind his seat, but was incapacitated by the acrid smoke and lost consciousness, collapsing to the cockpit floor. It was believed that the fire had also cut off the oxygen supply to the EROS mask, leaving Lampe with no oxygen left to return to the pilot seat and fly the plane. Bell was instructed to land on the airport's runway 12L.
The aircraft was too high on the approach and the gear did not extend. The aircraft passed over the airport before making a tight turn. Bell attempted to turn towards Sharjah International Airport but unknowingly turned in the wrong direction. Radar contact was lost shortly thereafter at 15:42 UTC. The aircraft finally struck the ground at a shallow angle and at high speed in an unpopulated area between the Emirates Road and Al Ain Highway, barely missing Dubai Silicon Oasis. The right wing hit the ground first and the burning 747 skidded a few meters, and exploded in a fireball, killing Bell instantly. Other than ATC, many initial reports came from pilots working for Emirates who were living in the community.
The aircraft involved in the accident was a Boeing 747-400F with registered N571UP, delivered to UPS Airlines in 2007. It had flown for more than 10,000 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 747s built before 747-8 series.
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 type batteries. The FAA issued a restriction on the carrying of lithium batteries in bulk on passenger flights. Boeing announced that the 747-400F fire 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.
The accident revived concerns about the effects of smoke in the cockpit, raising the question of whether smoke hoods should be introduced in commercial aviation. Around the time of the crash, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had asked the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to mandate the installation of 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.
The United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) opened an investigation into the crash, assisted by the NTSB. 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 recovered and sent to the United States for analysis by the NTSB.
The GCAA released its final investigation report in July 2013, The report indicated that the fire was caused by the autoignition of the contents of a cargo pallet, which contained more than 81,000 lithium batteries and other combustible materials. The shutdown of air conditioning pack 1 for unknown reasons led to smoke entering the cockpit.
The investigation also revealed that the cargo liner failed when the fire started and this contributed to the severity of the damage.
The crash was featured in the 15th season of Mayday (or Air Crash Investigation) on 11 January 2016. The episode aired on the National Geographic Channel in United Kingdom and the rest of the world and is entitled "Fatal Delivery".
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- General Civil Aviation Authority
- Final report (Archive)
- Interim Report (Archive)
- Preliminary Report (Archive)
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- "Statement on Aircraft Accident." (Archive) – United Parcel Service