Two pilots flying a UPS cargo plane were killed Monday following a plane crash near an Alabama airport.
The crash occurred near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. Debris was strewn for hundreds of yards as the plane, an Airbus A300, burst into flames in a nearby field.
"The plane is in several sections," Birmingham Mayor William Bell, who was briefed on the situation by the city's fire chief, told Fox News. "There were two to three small explosions, but we think that was related to the aviation fuel."
The National Transportation Safety Board "Go-Team" from Washington, D.C has launched an investigation into the incident. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt has expressed confidence in recovering the plane's black box in hopes of uncovering further details about the crash.
"The board has a very good success rate at being able to recover the recorders," Sumwalt said according to USA Today. Company spokesman Jeff Wafford confirmed that the pilot and co-pilot were the only two aboard the plane. Both were determined dead at the scene.
Residents near where the accident occurred said the plane sounded as though it had run out of gas.
"It sounded like an airplane had given out of fuel. We thought it was trying to make it to the airport. But a few minutes later we heard a loud `boom,"' resident Sharon Wilson told Fox News.
The pilots did not send out any distress signs before the crash occurred. No one in the nearby area was injured, although several homes were littered with debris.
"Debris is everywhere,'' Bell told USA. "It took tremendous effort by the men and women of the police and fire departments to put the fire out and take control of the scene."
The incident occurred at around 5 a.m.
"This incident is very unfortunate, and our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols said in a statement. "We place the utmost value on the safety of our employees, our customers and the public. We will immediately engage with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation, and we will work exhaustively on response efforts."