The National Transportation Safety Board has revoked the status of UPS and the Independent Pilots Association as "interested parties" able to provide technical assistance for its investigation of a UPS Airbus A300 freighter that crashed in Birmingham, Ala., last August.
Two flight crew members were killed, and the plane was destroyed upon impact less than a mile short of the runway.
The independent agency said it took the action after the IPA and UPS violated the terms of their agreement by publicly commenting on and providing their own analysis of the investigation prior to the NTSB's public meeting to determine the probable cause of the accident. The NTSB reserves the sole right to disseminate information about accident investigations it conducts to prevent prejudicing public perception of the investigative findings. Once the investigation is complete, all restrictions are lifted.
“NTSB investigations depend heavily upon technical input from the accident
parties,” Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart said in a statement. “If one party disseminates
information about the accident, it may reflect that party’s bias. This puts the
other parties at a disadvantage and makes them less willing to engage in the
process, which can undercut the entire investigation.”
Without first consulting with the NTSB, the IPA issued a press release Aug. 13 providing its own analysis of the accident. UPS, also without first consulting with the
NTSB, posted comments on a website responding to the IPA press release in which
it also provided its own analysis.
“It doesn’t matter who started it,” Hart said. “Neither action is acceptable.”
The NTSB warned UPS
that further comments could jeopardize the airline's ability to participate in a technical capacity in future investigations. The IPS was similarly warned by the NTSB
in a letter revoking its party status.
One of the areas the NTSB is working hard to determine is whether the UPS pilots were fatigued and if their condition contributed to the crash.