UPS A-300 Crash In Birmingham: Will Black Boxes Provide Usable Data For Investigators? - Forbes At the NTSB press conference yesterday afternoon, Robert Sumwalt, the Board Member in charge of the investigation, stated that the tail section of the aircraft which houses the black boxes was still smoldering and too hot to retrieve the boxes. Media video of the tail section shows an intense fire burning for a prolonged period. While only retrieval and analysis of the boxes will tell for sure, the intense fire could affect the data read-out. According to the NTSB’s press statements, preliminary information from air traffic control indicates that there was no distress call from the crew. Often times, the distress call will indicate the problem that the crew is dealing with and help focus the course of the accident investigation. With the microphone push-to-talk button located on the control column, a crewmember can readily activate the mike while continuing to fly the aircraft. Why no distress call was made will be of significant interest to investigators in analyzing what occurred.