U.S. government investigators were hoping Friday that cockpit voice and flight data recorders, pulled from the wreckage of a UPS cargo plane that crashed early Wednesday, would help pinpoint the cause of the accident which killed the jet's pilot and co-pilot.
The United Parcel Service Inc plane's "black box" flight recorders arrived at the headquarters of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington late Thursday, within hours of being pulled from a heap of melted plastic and debris at the crash site outside Birmingham, Alabama's international airport.
The transportation safety board expected to learn, by some time Friday, whether the recorders contained data that would shed light on factors relating to the pre-dawn crash on Wednesday, NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.
The NTSB will hold a briefing in Birmingham at 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) on Friday.
Preliminary results from the agency's investigation, which is still in its early stages, have shown no evidence of engine fire, and the pilots did not issue a distress call.
The Airbus A300 jet was approaching the runway at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth airport when it clipped the trees in an adjacent residential area. The plane then crashed well short of the runway into an embankment in a grassy field.
In addition to the agency's work at the crash site and in Washington, the NTSB has dispatched investigators to Louisville, Kentucky, to study the A300's maintenance records, board member Robert Sumwalt said.
The FBI was helping with documentation and the collection of evidence, Sumwalt said from the crash site, in a videotaped interview posted on the website of the Birmingham News.
"I think the wreckage should probably be moved out of here in about seven days," Sumwalt said. "We want to make sure we've got everything documented before we release it to the airline."
UPS identified the two crew members who died as 58-year-old Cerea Beal Jr., a resident of Matthews, North Carolina, and Shanda Fanning, 37, of Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Beal, the captain, had been with UPS since 1990, and prior to that had served for more than six years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a heavy-lift helicopter operator.