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Fatal aviation accident may have been caused by fatigue

A fatal cargo jet crash that happened last August may have had several warning signs, according to data presented to the National Transportation Safety Board on the fatal accident. The UPS cargo jet accident happened in Alabama last summer after two UPS pilots tried to land at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. 

Reports of the fatal aviation accident to the NTSB show that several factors led to the crash as well as ways the crash could have been prevented if the warning signs had been recognized and addressed before the flight took off. 

The accident happened when the two UPS pilots tried to land the cargo jet on a shorter runway at the airport that didn't have a full landing system that helps pilots land. The main runway was closed at the time. 

In addition to not being able to land on the main runway, the following factors also played a role in the fatal crash: 

  • The pilots did not take the last step when programming the computer system that helps the plane land. This left the pilots without navigation when trying to land. 
  • The pilots complained of being tired due to their work schedule just before the flight. Fatigued pilots are more likely to made errors during flights, which may have contributed to the fatal crash. 
  • The descent rate during landing was set too high, which resulted in the plane hitting the tops of trees just before crashing into a hillside. 

All of these factors played a role in the aviation accident. The pilots had complained of being tired before taking off on the fatal flight. Fatigue has become a safety issue for pilots as it can impact a pilot's response time, judgment and lead to errors. 

Pilots and airline companies need to be aware of the dangers of pilot fatigue and the impact it can have on aviation safety. In this case, the accident may have been prevented if the warning signs of fatigue and other errors had been noticed before it was too late. 

Source: US News, "Pilots complained of tiring schedules, made errors before UPS plane crash," Joan Lowy, Feb. 20, 2014

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