NTSB says pilots received warnings mere seconds before crash

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a press briefing Friday for the third time in as many days to discuss the investigation into what caused UPS Flight 1354 to crash on its approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt addressed reporters and gave new details about the flight data recorders recovered from the Airbus A300-600F aircraft.

Sumwalt says the initial reviews of the audio recordings show the pilots received an alert of “sink rate, sink rate”, which indicates that the plane was descending at a rate outside of the pre-programmed descent parameters.

The alert warnings came 16 seconds from the end of the audio recordings.

Only nine seconds from the end of the recording, the first signs of a crash are evident.

“Nine seconds from the end of the recording, we have sounds that are consistent with impact,” said Sumwalt.

In addition, Sumwalt also says two air traffic controllers were on duty at the time of the crash, but one was on break at the time of the crash.

The NTSB has conducted an interview with the air traffic controller not on break at the time of the crash. The controller describes seeing a bright orange flash and then a red glow before immediately activating the crash phone.

Both of the pilots aboard the flight, Capt. Cerea Beal and First Officer Shanda Fanning died in the crash.

Sumwalt says the crash is still under investigation. The exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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