UPS Airlines Flight 6
N571UP, the aircraft involved, seen on approach in Dubai in November 2008
|Date||September 3, 2010|
|Summary||In-flight uncontained cargo fire caused by lithium ion batteries|
|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 747-400F 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 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.
The captain, 48-year-old Douglas Lampe of Louisville, Kentucky, and the first officer, 38-year-old Matthew Bell from Sanford, Florida. Both crew members were based in UPS's Anchorage, Alaska pilot base.
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 the thick smoke in the cockpit. Although they were offered a diversion to Doha, Qatar, the captain made the decision to return to Dubai. Captain Lampe's oxygen mask failed and he left his seat to get a spare oxygen mask. He did not return. The co-pilot was instructed to land on the airport's runway 12L. The aircraft was too high on the approach and the gear did not deploy. The aircraft passed over the airport before making a tight turn. Bell attempted to turn towards Sharjah International Airport but turned the wrong direction. Radar contact was lost shortly thereafter at 15:42 UTC. The aircraft crashed at a shallow angle in an unpopulated area between the Emirates Road and Al Ain Highway, barely missing Dubai Silicon Oasis. The aircraft hit right wing first and skidded a few meters. Many initial reports, other than ATC, came from pilots working for Emirates Airlines who were living in the community.
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.
On July 24, 2013, the GCAA released the final investigation report. The report indicated that the fire was caused by the autoignition of the contents of a cargo pallet, which contained "a significant number" of lithium type batteries and "other combustible materials".
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.
In popular culture
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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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