Emirati investigators say a UPS cargo plane that crashed in Dubai shortly after takeoff Friday had smoke in the cockpit and was struggling to maintain altitude before the accident.
The UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority said in a preliminary report Sunday the Boeing 747-400’s crew was trying to return to Dubai;s main airport when the accident occurred.
It says the plane was too high on the approach and passed over the airfield before making a right turn. It rapidly lost altitude before crashing in an unpopulated area about 50 minutes after takeoff.
The GCAA says a US National Transportation Safety Board team is scheduled to arrive Sunday to help with the probe.
The two American pilots who died in the UPS cargo plane crash in Dubai on Friday night are identified as Captain Doug Lampe of Louisville, Kentucky, and First Officer Matthew Bell of Sanford, Florida.
The two deceased pilots were flying a 747-400 en route to Cologne, Germany, when it crashed near Dubai International Airport.
"This is a terrible tragedy, and all of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both of these crewmembers," said UPS CEO Scott Davis.
"Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with them during this difficult time." The UPS Family Assistance Team is working with the victims' families to help them in their time of need.
Captain Lampe, 48, has been with UPS since 1995. First Officer Bell, 38, has been with UPS since 2006.
Both crewmembers flew out of UPS's Anchorage, Alaska domicile, or pilot base, UPS said.
According to UPS, the aircraft, tail number N571UP, was just three years old, entering UPS service off the Boeing production line in September 2007.
The airframe had flown 9,977 hours, completing 1,764 takeoffs and landings. It was up to date on all maintenance, having just completed a major inspection in June 2010.
UPS owns 12 747-400s, eight of which are new, and four of which have been purchased from other carriers and adapted for UPS use.
The aircraft, which has a payload capacity of nearly 258,600 pounds, is used on long-range international routes, such as the regular Dubai-Cologne routing.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is dispatching an aviation investigation team to assist the General Civil Aviation Authority (GACC) of the UAE in the crash investigation.
The GCAA will take the lead on the investigation and release all information on the progress of the investigation.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman has designated senior air safety investigator Bill English as the US accredited representative.
His team will include NTSB specialists in the areas of human performance, fire, operations and systems.
The team will also include technical advisors from the FAA, Boeing, UPS, GE and the Independent Pilots Association.
A UPS team has arrived in Dubai at this time and will cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
"We established an internal command center within minutes of learning of this tragedy.
It will be staffed around the clock with experts from every part of our operation," said UPS Airlines President Bob Lekites.
"Safe, secure operations are our top priorities for our employees, our customers, and our public stakeholders."