NTSB Boots UPS, Pilots Union from Crash Investigation Team

** UPS Flight 1354** Courtesy of the NTSB

A public relations war of words between UPS and the cargo airline's pilots union has gotten both kicked off the investigation team working to determine what caused the crash of UPS Flight 1354 in Birmingham, Alabama, on Aug. 14, 2013.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced yesterday it has revoked the party status of UPS and the Independent Pilots Association, barring further involvement by representatives from either side looking into the crash of the UPS Airbus A300-600, which killed both pilots while attempting to land in Birmingham. The action came after the union on August 13 issued a press release titled "UPS Pilots Call for End of Part 117 Carve-out on Anniversary of Fatigue Crash" and UPS responded with comments on the Air Cargo World website.

The NTSB's investigation is in its final stages, meaning all investigative work has been completed. But the Safety Board told UPS and the pilots union that it wants to meet with both before allowing participation in future accident investigations.

"NTSB investigations depend heavily upon technical input from the accident parties," acting NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said in a statement. "If one party disseminates information about the accident, it may reflect that party's bias. This puts other parties at a disadvantage and makes them less willing to engage in the process, which can undercut the entire investigation."

A spokesman for UPS Air Group told The Birmingham News that the cargo airline is "surprised and disappointed" by the NTSB's action, saying the Safety Board appears to have "changed the rules" about what can and cannot be discussed. The airline will ask the Safety Board to reconsider its decision.

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