Three people were killed when an Amazon Prime Air-branded cargo flight crashed near Houston, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.
The Boeing 767-375ER, owned and flown by cargo outfit Atlas Air as flight number 5Y3591, is said to have entered an unexpected nosedive from around 6,000ft while on a scheduled cargo run between Miami Airport and Houston George Bush International.
No dangerous cargo was declared on the manifest, according to US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials.
A popular flight-tracking website recorded the fatal flight's route; however, data from these sites is not precise and is known to contain anomalies and misreadings. It is useful only as a general guide to where the aircraft was operating.
Two bodies have been recovered from Trinity Bay, near the Texan city of Anahuac. One was identified as Sean Archuleta, a Mesa Air captain who was reportedly on the flight deck jump seat. Many airlines have agreements allowing flight crew to "position" to other airports, ready to fly their own company's aircraft.
'Crash nobody would survive'
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said on Saturday that the Boeing 767 "went in nose first" and that it was "probably a crash that nobody would survive," according to the American Associated Press newswire. The part of Trinity Bay where the Amazon Air-branded freighter crashed was said to be mostly mud flats with water depth varying between 0 and 1.5m (5ft).
Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations at Amazon, said in a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy. We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support."
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the NTSB, told local reporters yesterday that preliminary clues showed "no evidence of the aircraft trying to turn or pull up at the last moments". Investigators are now searching for the aircraft's so-called black boxes, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, which will contain critical clues as to what caused the crash.
Boeing 767s were the mainstay of many airlines over the last two decades. They still serve as cargo aircraft today. Amazon has a fleet of around 40 leased 767s in the cargo role, 20 of which are flown and maintained by Atlas Air, and is expected to take delivery of 10 more in the next two years. ®