News agencies in the Middle East Thursday said investigators have found evidence that the crew of a UPS Boeing 747-400 that crashed Sept. 3 near Dubai conducted their final moments in a cockpit filled with dense smoke. UPS has responded directly to one report published by The Khaleej Times, adding comments also directed at the Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal has already published a report suggesting that lithium batteries may have contributed to the intensity of fire and smoke. UPS told the Khaleej Times that early speculation is “irresponsible” and “everyone must let the GCAA [The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority] investigation run its course.” The NTSB’s factual report states “the crew declared an emergency due to smoke in the cockpit.” GCAA Thursday announced that complete flight data and voice recorder information had been successfully downloaded by NTSB technicians and analysis of the data is ongoing.
Investigators have said several systems on the flight deck indicated fire or smoke on the main deck and the lower aft cargo hold. Investigators have also commented that there appear to have been some “difficulty in the communication process,” but did they not elaborate. The investigation is continuing with a focus on the aircraft’s cargo. The crash took place more than 45 minutes after departure from Dubai. The crew had reportedly been offered an alternate airport but requested a return to Dubai. They ultimately overflew the airport at 4,000 feet and crashed roughly five minutes later after performing a right-hand turn. The crash killed both pilots, the only two people aboard. It was the first fatal accident for UPS.