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Opening Remarks - Investigative Hearing on the Crash of United Parcel Service Co. (UPS Airlines) flight 1354, Airbus A300, Registration N155UP, on August 14, 2013 at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham, Alabama
Deborah A.P. Hersman
Washington, DC


Good morning. I am Debbie Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am joined by my fellow Board Members: Vice Chairman Chris Hart, Member Robert Sumwalt who served as the Board Member on-scene in Birmingham, Member Mark Rosekind, and Member Earl Weener. Today, we hold an investigative hearing on the August 14, 2013, crash of United Parcel Service (UPS) flight 1354, in Birmingham, AL, which resulted in the deaths of two commercial pilots.
On behalf of my fellow Board members and the entire NTSB staff, I offer our condolences to the families and friends of the flight crew who lost their lives. We are joined in the Board room today by several family members and friends of the crew, and others are watching via webcast. We know this will be a difficult day for you. Although we cannot change what happened, we do have the opportunity to learn all we can about the facts and circumstances of the crash so that we can prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
While airline accidents are rare events, they are widely publicized and closely scrutinized by experts around the globe. When an accident such as this does occur, it is the responsibility of the National Transportation Safety Board, with assistance from designated parties from government, industry and labor, to find out what happened, why it happened, and how we can prevent similar events from recurring.
The purpose of this hearing is two-fold.
First, the issues that will be discussed at this hearing serve to assist the NTSB in developing additional factual information that will be analyzed for the purpose of determining the probable cause of the accident.
Second, this hearing also provides an opportunity for the aviation community, and the public, to see a portion of the total investigative process. This transparency reinforces our role as an independent agency and provides an opportunity for citizens to view the efforts being put forth by investigators to determine the cause of this accident.

I want to assure the families of the crew that the Safety Board will pursue every lead toward what caused or contributed to this accident. We will also fulfill our broader mandate to formulate recommendations to prevent such tragedies in the future in the United States and around the world.
Public hearings such as this are exercises in accountability:
  • accountability on the part of the NTSB that it is conducting a thorough and fair investigation;
  • accountability on the part of the FAA that it is adequately regulating the industry;
  • accountability on the part of the airline that it is operating safely;
  • accountability on the part of manufacturers as to the design and performance of their products; and
  • accountability on the part of the work force -- including pilots and mechanics -- that they are performing up to the high standards of professionalism expected of them.
During this investigation, the NTSB is working closely with our French counterpart, the BEA (Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses), and I wish to welcome Mr. Romain Bévillard, who is serving as the Accredited Representative of the BEA as provided by ICAO Annex 13.
On August 14, 2013, about 0447 central daylight time (CDT), UPS Airlines flight 1354, an Airbus A300-600, registration N155UP, crashed short of runway 18 while on approach to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama.
The two flight crew members were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The cargo flight was operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, and originated from Louisville International Airport, Louisville, Kentucky.
Last week, on February 13, 2014, the NTSB conducted a pre-hearing conference for NTSB's personnel and the parties to this hearing.

At the conference, we delineated the issues to be discussed at this hearing and identified and agreed upon the list of witnesses and exhibits.
The three broad issues we will discuss today are:
  1. Non-precision Approaches;
  2. Human Factors; and
  3. Flight Dispatch.
Testimony and questioning will be limited to these three issues areas.

Before proceeding, I'd like to identify the NTSB staff members who are part of this hearing:
Dr. Dan Bower, the Investigator-In-Charge; and
John Lovell, the Hearing Officer.
Our technical panelists include:
Dr. Katherine Wilson;
Capt. David Lawrence; and
Dana Schulze, all of the NTSB; and
from the BEA, Mr. Romain Bévillard.
Additional support is provided by:
Eric Weiss, Public Affairs;
David Tochen, Robert Combs, and Alex Burkett, legal support; and
Brian Soper and Don Eick, audio/visuals.
I will now introduce the parties designated to participate in the investigative hearing. As prescribed in the Board's rules, we designate as parties those persons whose participation we deem will contribute to the development of pertinent evidence.
As I call the name of each party, I ask the designated spokesperson to identify themselves, state their affiliation with the party, and introduce the other persons at the party table.
Airbus Capt. Craig Hoskins
Federal Aviation Administration Mr. Robert Drake
Independent Pilots Association (IPA) Capt. Steve Whyte
Transport Workers Union (TWU) Mr. Dan Persuit
United Parcel Service

Capt. Houston Mills


I'd like to thank all of the parties for their assistance and cooperation with the NTSB’s investigation thus far.
We will begin the hearing with a presentation by the Investigator-In-Charge, Dr. Dan Bower, who will provide an overview of the crash. We will then proceed in sequence, one panel at a time for each of the three hearing issue areas. For each panel, the Hearing Officer, John Lovell, will call and introduce the witnesses, and each will testify under oath.
The witnesses have been pre-qualified and their qualifications and biographical information are available on the NTSB’s website. The witnesses will be questioned first by the NTSB technical panel, then by the spokesperson for each party, and finally by the Board of Inquiry (which consists of the Board members). The parties will be limited to 5 minutes per panel. After one round of questions, due to time constraints, a second round will be limited to pertinent questions that serve to clarify the record or address some new matter raised.
I must emphasize again the fact-finding nature of the hearing. NTSB investigations are, by regulation, fact-finding proceedings with no adverse parties. The Board does not assign fault or blame for an accident or incident. At this hearing, witnesses may not speculate or analyze the facts, and questions are limited to the predetermined subject matter of the hearing, which is contained in the hearing agenda. Questions relating to fault, outside litigation, or legal liability will not be permitted.
Some exhibits include markings, or redactions, that reflect the NTSB’s agreement with the providers of the documents regarding the NTSB’s disclosure of any proprietary or confidential information in those exhibits. The NTSB is authorized by statute to disclose information to carry out its duties, but we do so in a way that protects confidentiality to the greatest extent possible.
At this time I will call on the Hearing Officer to go over a few items. Mr. Lovell.