National Transportation Safety Board investigators remove a black box from the the tail section of the UPS cargo plane that crashed Wednesday on approach to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 in Birmingham, Ala. The devices could hold key evidence about what happened as the jet tried to land early but crashed on its approach, killing two pilots. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Federal investigators found no initial evidence that a UPS cargo jet suffered engine failure or was burning before it clipped trees at the end of a runway and slammed into a hillside, killing the two crew members onboard, officials said Thursday.
UPS on Thursday night identified the victims as Capt. Cerea Beal, Jr., 58, of Matthews, N.C. and First Officer Shanda Fanning, 37, of Lynchburg, Tenn. In an email, the company said the Jefferson County, Ala., medical examiner had confirmed their identities.
A former Marine helicopter pilot, Beal had been with UPS since 1990. Fanning, described by UPS as an aviation enthusiast who was active and well-known in Lynchburg, had worked with the company since 2006.
Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said during a news conference that the findings were only preliminary, and investigators hope to get additional evidence from data and voice recorders that were pulled from the plane’s burned-out tail section earlier in the day.
“They were blackened and sooted,” he said of the recorders, one of which captures voices in the cockpit and the other that records flight information about the plane’s operation. “We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to obtain good data.”
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