Investigators eye pilot fatigue as possible factor in predawn crash of UPS cargo jet

WASHINGTON – Federal investigators are looking at pilot fatigue, among other issues, as a possible factor in the fatal pre-dawn crash of a UPS cargo jet in Alabama last August.

The National Transportation Safety Board scheduled a hearing for Thursday on the accident, which killed both pilots.

The pilots’ work shift had begun at about 9 p.m. the previous day in Rockford, Ill., and took them to Peoria and then to Lexington, Ky. They were finishing their last scheduled leg when the plane slammed into a hillside just before 5 a.m. while attempting to land in Birmingham.

Two years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration issued new rules aimed at ensuring airline pilots have sufficient rest. But the agency exempted cargo pilots from the rules, citing cost.