Crew members from Kentucky and Florida were identified Saturday as the two people killed when a UPS cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff outside Dubai.
The Atlanta-based package delivery company said that the crash killed 48-year-old Captain Doug Lampe of Louisville, Ky., and 38-year-old First Officer Matthew Bell of Sanford, Fla.
Lampe has been with UPS since 1995. Bell has been with UPS since 2006. Both crewmembers flew out of UPS's Anchorage, Alaska, pilot base.
"This is a terrible tragedy, and all of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both of these crewmembers," said UPS CEO Scott Davis in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with them during this difficult time."
Family members for the pilots could not immediately be reached on Saturday.
UPS said the two pilots were flying a Boeing 747-400 to Cologne, Germany, when it crashed.
The National Transportation Safety Board was dispatching an aviation investigation team to assist United Arab Emirates authorities in the investigation of Friday's crash.
The plane went down inside an Emirati air base near a busy highway intersection about 10 miles southeast of Dubai's international airport. WAM, the state news agency, said the crash occurred in an unpopulated desert area, suggesting there may not have been casualties on the ground.
UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said the Boeing 747-400 — which has a wingspan of 212 feet and length of 232 feet — went down at about 8 p.m. in Dubai (12 p.m. EST).
Two U.S. aviation experts said the plane had taken off and then turned around and was returning to land when the accident took place. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.
UPS, an Atlanta-based company formally known as United Parcel Service Inc. and the world's largest shipping company, dispatched an investigation team to the scene.
A Dubai-based spokesman for the General Civil Aviation Authority, Ismail al-Baroushi, said an investigation was under way, but it was "too early to speculate" on the cause of the crash. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz also said the U.S. agency will send a team of experts to Dubai to assist with the investigation.
A witness, who refused to give his name, said he was sitting on the balcony of his home when he heard a "big boom."
"There was fire and too much smoke," he said.
In October 2009, a Sudanese Boeing 707 cargo plane crashed in the desert outside Dubai after taking off from Sharjah airport north of Dubai, killing six crew members. Emirati regulators have banned the plane's Sudanese owner, Azza Transport, from operating in the country.
There are about 300 747 freighters in service, carrying about half the world's air cargo.
UPS planes have been involved in four accidents since 1985, none fatal, according to an aviation safety database. The most recent involved a fire that broke out in the cargo hold of a McDonnell Douglas DC-8 en route from Atlanta to Philadelphia. Smoke was billowing from the plane when it landed, but the three pilots were able to evacuate safely, said the database, maintained by the Flight Safety Foundation of Alexandria, Va.
In 2005, pilot error cause the nose gear of a McDonnell Douglas MD-11F to collapse during a landing in Anchorage, causing $10 million in damages to the plane.
Prior to Friday's accident, five major airline accidents have been linked to Dubai Airport since 1973, with no fatalities, according to the database. The most recent was on March 12, 2007, when a Biman Bangladesh Airlines Airbus A310 with 236 passengers and crew members aborted a takeoff. The plane came to rest at the end of the runway with a collapsed nose gear.