By David A. Mann  – Reporter, Louisville Business First

A small aircraft carrying cargo for United Parcel Service Inc. made a belly landing on a runway at Louisville International Airport early Tuesday morning.

There were no injuries to the pilots aboard the plane, and the packages on board weren’t damaged either — they’ve already been sorted and may have arrived at their destinations by now.

The plane was operated by Air Cargo Carriers Inc., according to a Federal Aviation Administration report. A UPS spokesperson confirmed that the Wisconsin-based airline was contracted to carry UPS packages from Danville, Ill. to Louisville.

“At 1:38 a.m. [Tuesday], a turboprop Shorts 360 aircraft with two pilots on board made an apparent belly landing at Louisville International Airport, on runway 17L, the east runway at the airport,” UPS public relations manager Jim Mayer said in an email. “We appreciate the quick response by the airport’s crash fire and rescue unit.”

The accident will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, Mayer said.

I’ve reached out to the NTSB, Louisville International Airport and Air Cargo Carriers Inc. for more information but have not heard back yet. This story could be updated.

There is little other information about the incident available. The FAA report I mentioned above says only that the plane’s “nose gear collapsed” and that there were no injuries.

A belly landing sounds terrifying, but they happen and people survive them, apparently.

The Telegraph, of London, published this piece about what pilots do in these instances. It’s risky, and the plane could be damaged — or flip over if it lands too hard. But there is a correct way to perform such a landing, according to the report. The trick seems to be landing the plane on its rear wheels, then dropping the nose on the tarmac at the last moment.

UPS Airlines is based in Louisville. It has 245 large jets and contracts for more than 300 small feeder aircraft used around the world, Mayer said. These are useful on routes to sites such as Danville, Ill., where there is not enough volume to fill a larger aircraft, he said, adding that contractors are “an integral part of providing overnight service, particularly to smaller communities.”

UPS is Louisville’s largest employer, with about 21,000 full-time equivalent workers.