A plane carrying a load of auto parts crashed Sunday as it was trying to land in northern Mexico, killing the pilot and severely injuring the co-pilot.

The plane crashed before dawn Sunday half a mile from the runway in Ramos Arizpe, 200 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, said Segismundo Doguin, the deputy civil defense chief for Coahuila state.

The co-pilot received second- and third-degree burns and was in critical condition at a hospital in the nearby city of Saltillo, Doguin said.

The DC-9-15 freighter was operated by USA Jet Airlines, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Company spokesman Donald McNeff said the crew members were U.S. citizens but declined to identify them by name. Mexican officials gave conflicting versions of the names.

The plane was carrying four tons of car parts it had picked up in Hamilton, Canada, for a General Motors plant in Ramos Arizpe.

The plane cleared customs in Shreveport, Louisiana, before heading to Ramos Arizpe, McNeff said.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said in a news release that it sent a team of investigators to Mexico to help determine what caused the crash.