NTSB: black boxes successfully recorded entire flight

Source: NTSB
Source: NTSB

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WAFF) - An NTSB spokesman reported Thursday that "black box" flight data recorders successfully stored all the data from UPS Flight 1354, including the moments before the crash that killed the two pilots.

At a press conference held Thursday afternoon, it was revealed by NTSB Lead Investigator Robert Sumwalt that the recorders indicated 16 seconds prior the end of the recording, a "sink rate" alarm was triggered, indicating a sudden drop in altitude during descent. Three seconds later, a pilot can be heard saying that the runway was in sight. A second sink rate warning was also triggered.

Nine seconds before the recording ends, Sumwalt described "sounds consistent with impact." Sumwalt also revealed that two flight controllers were on duty at the airport at the time, one of whom witnessed the crash. The controller reported seeing the aircraft's landing lights shortly before a bright orange flash and a red glow. The controller then activated a "crash phone."

Sumwalt said that some 400 parameters of data were recorded by the black box, including audio and instrument measurements.

More was revealed about the pilots' records during the press conference. First Officer Shanda Fanning was hired in 2006 and had 1,250 hours of flying time with UPS. Captain Cerea Bell, Jr. was hired by UPS in 1990 and held over 8,000 hours of flying time. Both were rated specifically to handle an Airbus 300-600F, the type of aircraft involved in the crash.

Sumwalt said that while the NTSB was pleased with the progress of the investigation, he warned it would still be a long process piecing together the information that led to the crash.

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