Pilots killed in Dubai crash were Americans

Investigators have so far only found the body of one of two pilots who were on board a cargo plane that crashed inside a military camp in Dubai last night.

Smoke rises from the the crash scene of a cargo plane owned by US courier United Parcel Service (UPS) at a military base in Dubai, late on September 3, 2010. The Boeing 747-400 caught fire shortly after take-off and crashed, killing both crew members, civil aviation authorities said. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB

DUBAI // Investigators have so far only found the body of one of two pilots who were on board a cargo plane that crashed inside a military camp in Dubai last night. The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has begun investigating the crash of United Parcel Service (UPS) Flight 6, at around 7.45pm, but officials said it is too early to speculate about a cause. Saif al Suwaidi, the GCAA director general, said today investigators have also located one of the plane's black boxes, containing voice recordings, among the wreckage of the 747-400. "We have started the investigation and have managed to retrieve one of the bodies," he said. "The other has still not been retrieved." The plane crashed inside the Nad al Sheba Military Camp shortly after taking off from Dubai International Airport en route to Cologne, Germany. The base was closed to outsiders yesterday and the wreckage could not be seen from the exterior. Mr al Suwaidi said there was only "slight damage" to some "empty buildings" on the base. GCAA officials are gathering eyewitness statements from areas near to the crash site, which is close to the Emirates Road and Al Ain Road intersection, opposite Silicon Oasis. Included among the cargo plane's load were "children's toys and computer accessories", Mr al Suwaidi said. The US National Transportation Safety Board also confirmed its involvement in the investigation, announcing that it will dispatch a team to the UAE, including representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. UPS has also dispatched investigators to assist in the enquiry, the company confirmed. Scott Davis, the chairman of chief executive of UPS, said: "This is a terrible tragedy and all of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims. We are doing our best to learn exactly what happened." Dr Theodore Karasik, the director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, speculated that the pilot may have been trying to land in the military base to avoid causing a "disaster on the ground". Smoke and fire reported in the cockpit could have been caused by a number of factors, such as faulty wiring, lack of maintenance or a checklist problem, he said. Phil Smith, a member at RAES Flight Operations Group and a retired pilot who specialises in aircraft technical issues, agreedthat the cockpit fire indicated an electrical problem. Extinguishes on board would have not been enough to handle the fire because of the huge amount of power of the plane, he said. zconstantine@thenational.ae