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January 16, Friday, 2009

HEROIC PILOT SAVES PLANE BY LANDING IN RIVER

HUDSON SPLASHDOWN
Yesterday afternoon at around 3:30p.m, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport and only six minutes later it was a life raft, in the middle of the Hudson River adjacent to midtown Manhattan, shrouded with 155 survivors. Remarkably no one was hurt thanks to the heroic actions of the captain Chesley Sullenberger 57, a former fighter pilot, who managed to ditch the US Airlines flight successfully in the river. Although the Airbus A320 is the most technologically advanced commercial aircraft of its time, it still managed to crash with double engine failure; but why? That is the question that the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to find out. It was an ordinary take off from LaGuardia at 3:24p.m and Captain Sullenberger along with First Officer Jeffery Skiles, 49, were looking forward to the flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport stopping off at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport when at about three minutes into the flight they suffered a bird strike. This happened as they were following the flight path along the Hudson River when a flock of migrating Canada geese from Canada flew into the nose, wings, fuselage and engines causing considerable damage and cutting the two engines. When this happened Sullenberger said to air traffic control Hit birds. We've lost thrust on both engines. We're turning back towards LaGuardia." Normally when birds fly into engines they dont cause that much damage, however when the engines of the Airbus A320 were being vigorously tested the weight of the bird only went up to 7lbs before it cut the engines; the geese were 13lbs. As the geese were over the limit they broke the external rotors failing both engines. Aeroplanes can glide for a certain amount of time before they crash or stall but unfortunately for Sullenberger LaGuardia was too far away to get back to without power. His only option was to land on the Hudson itself. Now all that remained was to land the craft on the water which is very hard because if anything goes wrong there can be catastrophic consequences. Fortunately Chesley got everything right, even though he had not been trained to do so, such as landing tail first and keeping the wings level. As it hit the water both engines were ripped from the wings sinking to the muddy riverbed causing the FAA trouble in locating them for the investigation which were crucial to discovering the meaning of the crash; even more so than the black box located towards the back of the plane. Luckily the A320 did not sink along with the engines otherwise there would not have been as many survivors. Evacuating was of course the next priority that faced the crew and 150 passengers. Fortunately, Sullenberger had spotted the ferry that escorts people across the Hudson and had flown the Airbus towards them as to increase the chance of a quicker rescue. After the emergency landing had taken place the passengers, including one wheelchair, started filing out of the doors and began to cling onto the wings to stop themselves from drowning in the freezing cold water. Soon after the incident happened boats were crowding around the aircraft taking on survivors. Having checked the length of the cabin to make sure that no one left inside the captain was last to exit. Soon after the ditching the NYPD and FDNY were quick on the scene to investigate what had happened and then call in the FAA who moored the Airbus up a staggering 6 miles from where it landed due to the current. Investigators then underwent the challenge of taking the A320 out of the river and then discovering what happened in the few minutes of Flight 1549s flight.