LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - According to FAA records the UPS cargo plane that crashed in Alabama had a history of safety issues. Now a former UPS employee said those safety problems are indicative of UPS's culture of identifying mechanical problems, but not always making the necessary repairs.
There have been 12 service difficulty reports submitted to the FAA by UPS for safety problems onboard airbus N155UP. That's the cargo plane that crashed in Birmingham Wednesday morning killing both crew members on board.
The reports detail mechanical failures and structural deficiencies on the A300 aircraft that date back to 2006. The service difficulty reports include everything from faulty breaks to damaged floorboards. In a statement UPS said "the aircraft met all FAA air worthiness requirements and it was current on all scheduled maintenance" when it took off.
But were the past issues outlined in those FAA documents out of the norm?
A former UPS flight maintenance employee with more than 20 years experience working with A300s reviewed the FAA flight safety records of that downed cargo plane. She asked not to be identified but said overall, the problems listed in the reports are common for planes at UPS.
The former employee said in many cases, less serious mechanical problems are written up, but not fixed, before UPS planes are put back in the air. She said the saying at the hanger is "you lick it, stick it, and kick it" back out onto the runway.
That former UPS safety worker showed said the FAA service difficulty report from a 2006 incident showed the crew declared an emergency after the airbus's flap system failed upon landing at Cologne airport in Germany. But she said the report also shows after the flaps started working again, the plane was cleared for "further service" and allowed to fly to Frankfurt without any repairs.
The FAA service difficulty reports show the flight crew declared emergencies on board the plane two other times as well. In 2009 for smoke in the aircraft and 2012 when the onboard computer stopped working.
In both those cases faulty parts were replaced before the A300 was allowed to fly again.
But our former UPS safety worker told me UPS planes are continuously allowed to operate with safety deficiencies.
"I think they are serious about safety but their desire to meet flight schedules can compromise their decisions," she said.
In 2012 the FAA got 70,000 service deficiency reports for US aircrafts, but not all those reports detail serious safety issues.
A source in the aviation industry said the name itself can be a little misleading because often the problems only require are routine repairs.
And again, UPS said all of it's aircraft meet FAA requirements for airworthiness every time they take off.