'They told us'
The union representing the 2,600 pilots who fly for UPS took note of the cockpit conversation.
"Pilots rarely get to speak for themselves from beyond the grave in these cases," said Brian Gaudet, a spokesman for the Independent Pilots Association.
"I'm going to take their word at face value. They told us what was going on at the beginning of that flight," he said.
UPS said its rules are within FAA requirements, and that it had a FAA-mandated fatigue risk management program.
A typical UPS pilot is on duty 70 hours a month, and flies less than half of that time.
UPS said both crew members were coming off extended time off. The captain had been off for eight days before beginning his final trip, and the first officer had flown just two of the previous 10 days.
Beal had flown 41 hours in the previous 30 days; Fanning had flown 31.
UPS representative Capt. Jon Snyder said that "a majority" of the company's flights occur at night, so the company can keep its commitment to deliver packages by 10 a.m.
"That's the nature of the business," he said.
Last year, he said, pilots flew 123,000 flights, and on 138 occasions called in to report they were too tired to fly.
In 96 cases, the company determined that the pilot was within his or her rights, and in 42 cases it deducted days from their sick days after concluding the pilots could have managed their rest periods better.
IPA representative Lauri Esposito said pilots are reluctant to call in tired.
"Members view it (the company's response) as being punitive; they get dinged for it."
At the hearing, experts testified Beal and Fanning missed numerous cues that the plane was descending too rapidly.
NTSB investigator in charge Dan Bower said he has found no indication that the plane had mechanical problems.
Democratic legislation proposed last year in the Senate proposes to align rest rules for cargo pilots with those of their passenger airline counterparts.