NTSB Bars UPS And Pilots Union From Investigation
The NTSB said on Monday it has revoked the party status of both the Independent Pilots Association and UPS Airlines relative to its ongoing investigation of UPS Flight 1354, an A300-600 air cargo flight that crashed on approach to Birmingham, Alabama, last August, killing both crew members on board. The board said it took the action because IPA and UPS "violated the terms of the party agreement that each had signed at the start of the investigation." The NTSB said both IPA and UPS "took actions prejudicial to the investigation 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."
"NTSB investigations depend heavily upon technical input from the accident parties," said Acting Chairman Christopher Hart. "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." The NTSB said the IPA issued a news release on Aug. 13, without first consulting with the NTSB, providing its own analysis of the accident, which is explicitly prohibited in the party agreement. 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. "Neither action is acceptable," said Hart.
In its letter to the union (PDF), the board said statements in the press release concerning the UPS 1354 flight crew's fatigue "impermissibly prejudges the results of the NTSB's continuing investigation of the accident and its forthcoming findings and probable-cause statement regarding the accident." In its letter to UPS (PDF), the board said it was "greatly concerned with UPS Airlines' failure to consult with us" before responding to the news release from IPA posted on the Air Cargo World website. The NTSB held an investigative hearing on the accident in February, but the probable-cause report and meeting is still pending.