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US Airways Flight 1549

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US Airways Flight 1549

The downed US Airways Flight 1549 floating on the Hudson River 

Occurrence summary Date Type

January 15, 2009  bird strikes, Multiple bird Multiple strikes , controlled ditching In the  the Hudson River   between between  New York City (near 48th

Site

Street) and Weehawken, New Jersey (near  Port Imperial), Imperial), United States

Passengers Crew Injuries

150[1] 5 78[2] (mostly minor)

Fatalities

0

Survivors

155 (all)

Aircraft type Airbus A320-214 A320-214 Operator

US Airways

Tail number  N106US Flight origin Stopover Destination

Airport, New York  LaGuardia Airport, City Charlotte/Douglas International Airport Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

 

from New  New York  US Airways Flight 1549 was a scheduled commercial passenger flight from City to Charlotte, North Carolina Carolina,, that, on January 15, 2009, ditched in the  the Hudson River   [5] [3][4][5] adjacent to Manhattan six minutes after departing from LaGuardia Airport. Airport.[3][4] While on its initial climb out, out, the Airbus A320 A320  struck  struck aa flock of Canada of Canada Geese which resulted in an immediate almost complete loss of thrust from both engines. When the aircrew determined that the plane would be unable to safely reach any airfield from its location just northeast of the George Washington Bridge, Bridge, they turned it southbound and ne ar the USS glided over the river into which they successfully ditched the airliner near  Intrepid Museum  in midtown Manhattan about three minutes later. All 155 occupants safely evacuated the still virtually intact (although partially submerged and slowly [8][9] [9][10][ [10][11] 11] [6][7][8] sinking) airliner from which they were quickly rescued by nearby watercraft. wa tercraft.  [6][7] The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air  Pilots and Air Navigators. Navigators. The award citation read, "This emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement."[12]

Contents [hide] hide] • • • • • • • • • • • •



1 Flight designations, route, and crew 2 Airbus A320-21 A320-214 4 and its safety systems 3 Dit Ditch chin ing g 4 Eva Evacua cuatio tion n 5 Re Resc scue ue 6 In Injur juries ies 7 Af After terma math th 8 Accide Accident nt investig investigation ation Awar ards ds 9 Aw 10 Video and first person accounts accou nts 11 Se Seee als also o 12 Ref Referen erences ces 13 Ext Externa ernall link linkss

[edit edit]] Flight designations, route, and crew

 

LaGuardia Runway 4 Departure US Airways Flight 1549 (also designated under a Star Alliance  Alliance codeshare agreement as Airlines Flight 1919) was a domestic route from New York City's LaGuardia United Airlines   North Carolina, Carolina, with direct onward service service  to Airport (LGA) to Charlotte/Douglas, Charlotte/Douglas, North Seattle-Tacoma  in Washington Washington.. Seattle-Tacoma On January 15, 2009, the flight was cleared for takeoff from Runway 4 at LaGuardia at 3:24:56 p.m. EST (20:24:56 UTC). The crew made their first report after becoming airborne at 3:25:51 as being at 700 feet and climbing. climbing.[13] There were 150 passengers and five crew members, including the captain, captain, first officer , and three flight attendants attendants,, on [1][14] [1][14]  board. The captain was Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger , 57, a former fighter pilot who had been an airline pilot since leaving the Air Force in 1980. He is also a  safety  safety expert and a glider   [15][ [17][20][21] [15][16][ 16][17] 17][18][ [18][19] 19] [17][20][ 21]  pilot. The first officer was Jeffrey B. Skiles, 49, who was on his first flight in the Airbus A320 since passing the training course to fly the type.[22] The flight attendants were Donna Dent,[23] Doreen Welsh, and Sheila Dail. [24] As is often the case when a regularly scheduled commercial flight is involved in an accident, use of the flight's number, 1549, was discontinued for subsequent operations of  the carrier's afternoon LGA-CLT-SEA service. On January 16, 2009, 2 009, the route was redesignated US Airways Flight 1543, and on February 12, 2009, the LGA-CLT leg A321..[25]  became Flight 1867 when its equipment was changed to an  an  Airbus A321

[edit] edit] Airbus A320-214 and its safety systems The aircraft was an Airbus A320-214 (Registration: N106US), powered by two GE Aviation//Snecma-designed Aviation Snecma-designed CFM56-5B4/P engines manufactured in France and the U.S.

 

One of 74 A320s then in service in the US Airways fleet, [27] it was built by Airbus Industrie with final assembly at its facility at Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac in France in June, 1999. Delivered to the carrier on August 2, 1999, the airliner was registered to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, NA NA,, as owner/lessor [28] with AIG  AIG listed as the lead insurer. [26]

[29]

The aircraft's FAA FAA-required -required maintenance records,[30] released by US Airways the day after the accident, showed that when N106US was written off, its airframe had logged 16,299 cycles (flights) totaling 25,241.08 flight hours. Total time on the engines was 19,182 hours on the left (#1) and 26,466 hours on the right (#2). The last A Check , a maintenance check performed every 550 flight hours, was passed on December 6, 2008, 2008. [26] and the last C Check  (annual comprehensive inspection) on April 19, 2008.  The Airbus A320 is a digital fly-by-wire aircraft: the flight control surfaces are moved by electrical and hydraulic  hydraulic actuators controlled by a digital computer. The computer  interprets pilot commands via input from a side-stick , making adjustments on its own to keep the plane stable and on course. The mechanical energy of the two engines is the primary source of routine electrical  power and hydraulic pressure for the aircraft flight control systems systems..[31] The aircraft also has an auxiliary power unit (APU), which can provide backup electrical power for the aircraft, including its electrically powered hydraulic pumps; and a ram air turbine (RAT), a type of wind of wind turbine that can be deployed into the airstream to provide backup hydraulic pressure and electrical power at certain speeds. [31] According to the NTSB the NTSB,, both the APU and the RAT were operating as the plane descended into the Hudson, although it was not clear whether the RAT had been deployed manually or automatically. automatically.[31] The Airbus A320 also has a "ditching" button that closes valves and openings underneath the aircraft, including the outflow valve, the air inlet for the emergency Ram Air Turbine, the avionics inlet, the extract valve, and the flow control valve. It is meant to slow flooding in a water landing.[32] The flight crew did not activate the "ditch switch" during the incident.[33]

[edit] edit] Ditching  New York TRACON audio Air traffic control audio from about impact until ditching (3:10 long)  Problems listening to this file? See  See  media help. help.

 

Coast Guard video (8:07 long) of the crash and rescue; splashdown is at 3:31:02 pm First Officer Skiles was at the controls of the flight when it took off to the northeast from Runway 4 at 3:25 p.m., and was the first to notice a formation of birds approaching the aircraft about two minutes later, while passing through an altitude of about 3,200 feet (980 m)[3] on the initial climb out to 15,000 feet.[34] The aircraft collided with the birds at 3:27:01.[35] The windscreen quickly turned dark brown and several loud thuds were heard. [36] Both engines ingested birds and immediately lost almost all thrust. thrust .[34] Capt. Sullenberger took the controls, while Skiles began going through the three-page emergency procedures checklist in an attempt to restart the engines. [34] [35]

[37][38] 38] [37][

sic], At 3:27:36, at New  usingYork the call sign  sign "Cactus 1539" [  sic  the flight radioed air birds. trafficWe controllers  controllers at New Terminal Radar Approach Control Con trol (TRACON)  [39] "Hit lost thrust in both engines. Returning back towards LaGuardia." Passengers and cabin crew later reported hearing "very loud bangs" in both engines and seeing flaming exhaust, then silence from the engines and smelling the odor of unburned fuel in the [8][40][ [40][41] 41] cabin.[8]  Responding to the captain's report of a bird strike, controller Patrick  [42] Harten  gave the flight a heading to return to LaGuardia and told him that he could land to the southeast on Runway 13.[39] Sullenberger responded that he was unable.[39]

Flightpath Sullenberger asked if they could attempt an emergency landing in  in  New Jersey,   New Jersey, [39][43][ [43][44] 44] Airport  in Bergen County as a possibility;[39] air traffic mentioning Teterboro Airport controllers quickly contacted Teterboro and gained permission for a landing on runway 1. [43] However, Sullenberger told controllers that "We can't do it",[34] and that "We're gonna  be in the Hudson," making clear his intention to bring the plane down on the Hudson River due to a lack of altitude. altitude.[45] Air traffic control at LaGuardia reported seeing the aircraft pass less than 900 feet (270 m) above the  the  George Washington Bridge. Bridge.[46] About 90 seconds before touchdown, the captain announced, "Brace " Brace for impact," impact,"[46] and the flight attendants instructed the passengers how to do so.[47] The plane ended its six-minute flight at 3:31 pm with an unpowered unpowered  ditching while heading south at about 150 miles per hour (130 kn; 240 km/h) in the middle of the  the North  North River section River  section of the Hudson River roughly abeam 50th Street (near the Intrepid Sea-AirSpace Museum) in Manhattan Manhattan  and Port Imperial in  in Weehawken, Weehawken, New Jersey.

 

Sullenberger said in an interview on CBS television that his training prompted him to choose a ditching location near operating boats so as to maximize the chance of rescue. The location was near three boat terminals: two used by ferry operator   NY NY Waterway Waterway  on either side of the Hudson River and an d a third used by tour b boat oat operator  Circle Line [13][48] 48] [13][ Sightseeing Cruises. Cruises.  The ditching location was approximately 40.769498°N 40.769 40.769498°N 498°N 74.0046 74.004636°W 36°W 40.769 40.769498; 498; 74.004636°W  40.769498; -74.004636 Coordinates : [49] -74.004636. After coming to a stop in the river, the plane began d drifting rifting southward with [50] the current.  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Board Member Kitty Higgins, the  principal spokesperson for the on-scene investigation, said at a press conference the day after the accident that it "has to go down [as] the most successful  successful  ditching in aviation [51] history." "These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobody lost their life."[52]

[edit] edit] Evacuation Immediately after the A320 had been ditched in mid-river, the aircrew began evacuating the 150 passengers, both on to the wings through from the four mid-cabin emergency window exits and into inflated slides  slides deployed from the two front passenger doors, while the partially submerged and slowly sinking airliner drifted down the river with the current. Two flight attendants were in the front, one in the rear. Each flight attendant in the front opened a door, which was also armed to activate a slide, although the port side slide did not immediately deploy. One rear door was opened by a panicked passenger, causing the aircraft to fill more quickly with water. The flight attendant in the rear who attempted to reseal the rear door was not successful in doing so, she told CBS News News..[53] It was later revealed that the impact with the water had ripped open a hole in the underside of the airplane and twisting of the fuselage, causing cargo doors to pop open and filling the plane with water from the rear. [54] The flight attendant urged passengers to move forward by climbing over seats to escape the rising water within the cabin. One passenger  was in a wheelchair. Having twice walked the length of the cabin to confirm that no one [56][57] 57] [48][55][56][ remained inside after the plane had been evacuated, captain waited was thefor last person Evacuees, some wearingthe life-vests, rescue ontothe leave the aircraft. aircraft .[48][55]  partly submerged slides, knee-deep in icy river water. Others stood on the wings or, fearing an explosion, swam away from the plane.[53] Air temperature at the time was about 20 °F (−7 °C), and the water was 36 °F (2 °C)[44].

[edit] edit] Rescue

 

Video from 20 minutes after ditching, with numerous ferries and rescue boats surrounding the plane

FDNY,,  NYPD, NYPD, and The plane in the Hudson River surrounded by  by Coast Guard, Guard, FDNY ferryboats Local commercial vessels from the NY the  NY Waterway and Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Thomas at fleets responded almostby immediately to the Lombardi, emergency.was NYfirst Waterway ferry arriving  Jefferson , commanded Captain Vincent on the scene the side of the plane just four minutes after the ditching. NY Waterway ferry Governor  Thomas H. Kean, under the command of 20-year-old Captain Brittany Catanzaro Catanzaro,,[58] was the second rescue craft to arrive reaching the plane a few minutes later .[59] Catanzaro reported to radio station WNYC that she and her crew used a Jason's cradle to bring  people who were wet onto her boat. Aircraft captain Sullenberger stated in CBS News interviews that he advised the ferry crew to rescue passengers on the wing before the  passengers in the inflatable slides, as the inflatable slides provided a higher level of  safety. Time-stamped video from a United States Coast Guard (USCG) surveillance camera shows that the first of these vessels, a ferry boat, reached the plane at 3:35 pm (four minutes after the ditching) and began rescuing the 155 occupants. By this time many passengers were already standing on the wings or in the inflated slides. [56] The

rafts..[46] At one point, as the slides eventually detached from the fuselage to form  form life rafts  plane moved in the strong ebb tide current, passengers on one of the slides, fearing that the stern of the ferry boat would crush them, had to shout to the ferry boat pilot to steer  away.[60] Within minutes,[61] vessels from the New the New York City Fire  Fire and  and Police Departments (FDNY [62] Buo y Tender were and NYPD), the USCG,  and a privately owned former Coast Guard Buoy [63] on scene to help with the rescue and recovery effort. All of the passengers and flight crew were rescued safely.[46] The FDNY sent four marine units and rescue divers. divers .[64] On land, FDNY declared a level III (All Hands) emergency and mobilized their Major Emergency Response, Logistical [65][66] 66] About Support Units and had 35 ambulances ready for patients coming off the flight. [65][

 

140 FDNY firefighters responded to docks near the crash. [64] The NYPD sent squad cars, helicopters, vessels, and rescue divers from the Aviation Unit and Harbor Unit. In addition, about 30 other ambulances were made available by other organizations, including several hospital-based ambulances (St. Vincent, St. Barnabas). Various agencies also provided medical help on the  the Weehawken side of the river. Two mutual aid the Nassau County helicopters responded to the West 30th Street Heliport, Heliport, one from the Nassau Police and another from the New the New Jersey State Police. Police.[67] New York Water Taxi sent boats to the scene but did not take part in the rescue.[68]

[edit] edit] Injuries There were two serious injuries,[69] one of which was a deep laceration in flight attendant  attendant  [70][33] [33] [70] Doreen Welsh's leg. leg. In total, 78 people were treated, mostly for minor injuries [71] and hypothermia..[72] hypothermia Hospitals that treated patients from the incident include Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in Center  in Greenwich Village; Village; St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center , which admitted ten  New York Downtown Hospital,  people; New  people; Hospital, which treated three passengers; and Palisades Medical Center   in in North  North Bergen, New Jersey Jersey,, which treated five patients for  hypothermia.[73] In all, 24 passengers and two rescue personnel were treated at hospitals, [74] while others were cared for in triage facilities.[46] According to the airline, no pets were  being transported in the cargo hold, with a spokesperson stating: "We don't carry pets in our cargo."[75] Delayed psychological effects were experienced as a result of the accident and rescue. flashbacks, and panic and panic attacks Symptoms of  posttraumatic  posttraumatic stress  stress  including sleeplessness, flashbacks, were reported by members of the aircrew, passengers, and others directly involved. A number of the survivors received professional counseling, and some began an email  email  [76] support group to help ease the aftereffects of the experience. In addition to those on the  plane, FAA Air Traffic Control Specialist Patrick Harten, the New York TRACON controller who worked the flight during the emergency, later stated in testimony before Congress that for him "the hardest, most traumatic part of o f the entire event was when it was over" during which he was continually "gripped by raw moments of shock and grief."[77]

[edit] edit] Aftermath

Tied up alongside  alongside Battery Park City

 

The downed plane being recovered from the Hudson River  during the night of January 17.

At 4:55 p.m. fire crews began to stand down. At 5:07 p.m. Doug Parker , CEO of US Airways, issued an official statement during a press conference in Tempe Tempe,, Arizona, Arizona, in [78] which he confirmed that the flight had been involved in an accident. The flight crew, particularly Captain Sullenberger, were widely praised for their actions and New  New during the incident, notably by New by New York City Mayor  Michael Bloomberg and York State Governor  David Paterson, Paterson, who opined, "We had a 'Miracle on 34th Street.' Street.' I [71][79][ 79][80] 80][81] [81] [71][

 believe now we have had a 'Miracle on the Hudson'." Outgoing U.S. President  President  George W. Bush  Bush said he was "inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew," and President-elect  Barack  he also praised the emergency responders responde rs and volunteers.[82] Then President-elect Obama said that everyone was proud of Sullenberger's "heroic and graceful job in landing the damaged aircraft," and thanked the plane's crew, whom he invited to attend his inauguration as President in Washington, D.C., five days later. He also invited those who [83][84] 84] had helped ensure the safety of all 155 people aboard. aboard.[83][ Following the rescue, the plane remained afloat though partially submerged, and was Center in in Lower Manhattan Manhattan,, roughly quickly moored to a pier near the World Financial Center  [47] 4 miles (6 km) downstream from where it had ditched. The left engine had detached from the plane during the ditching and was recovered several d days ays later from the river  [85] eng ine  bottom, 65 feet (20 m) below b elow the surface. The water was so murky that the right engine was initially thought also to have detached, but[86] it was later found to be still in place on the aircraft (with much of its nacelle missing). On January 17, the aircraft was removed [34][87] 87][88] [88] The aircraft was then moved to from the Hudson River and placed on a barge. barge .[34][ [89]  New Jersey for examination. The method used to recover the submerged airframe from the water rendered it uneconomical to repair and the airliner was written off ,[90]. The rear pressure bulkhead was also damaged in the accident, and the salvage contractor, Weeks Marine, cut off the wings and empennage empennage.. Another salvage contractor, Source One Airplane Repair, contends that if due care had been taken during the recovery, the aircraft could have been repaired for $ for $20,000,000 (less than a third of the cost of a new aircraft). [91] The passengers on the plane each received a letter of apology, $5000 in compensation for  lost baggage and a refund of the ticket price. price.[92]

 

35-year-old Patrick Harten, a ten-year veteran air traffic controller who was talking with the aircrew during the incident, wore the number 1549 during the Boston Marathon, completing the race in a personal best time of 2:47:19. The Boston Marathon does not normally allow runners to choose their numbers, but they made an exception. He would have been in the 1000-2000 range bracket. [93]

[edit] edit] Accident investigation

The fuselage being towed to a salvage facility

Feather found in left (#1) engine Federal Aviation spokeswoman Laura Shortlysaid afterthat the the event, Brown plane may have beenAdministration been   hit by birds. birds.[94] (FAA) A National  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Go Team (typically comprising specialists in fields relating to the incident), led by Senior Air Safety Investigator Robert Benzon, was dispatched to New York.[95] The preliminary report of the incident, published on January 16, states that the aircraft went down following a bird strike. strike .[96] This conclusion, and the simultaneous loss of thrust in both engines, was confirmed by preliminary analysis of the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Recorder  and the Flight Data Recorder , both of which were recovered by the NTSB when the aircraft was lifted out of the river on January 18.[52] The next day, reports surfaced that the same airplane and same flight had experienced a similar but less severe compressor stall on January 13. During that flight, passengers [97][98] 98] However, the affected were told they might have to make an emergency landing. landing.[97][ engine was restarted and the flight continued to Charlotte. The NTSB later reported that this engine surge had been bee n caused by a faulty temperature sensor, which was replaced,

 

and that the engine was undamaged by the event, which allowed the plane to return to service.[99] On January 21, the NTSB noted that organic debris, including a single feather, as well as [100][101] 101] The left engine was evidence of soft-body damage, was found in the right engine.[100][ recovered from the river on January Janu ary 23 and, like the right engine, was missing a large [102]  portion of its housing. On initial examination the NTSB reported that while missing obvious organic matter, it too had evidence of soft body impact, and "had dents on both the spinner and inlet lip of the engine cowling. Five booster inlet guide vanes are fractured and eight outlet guide vanes are missing." Both engines were to be sent to the manufacturer's Cincinnati, Ohio facility for teardown and examination.[103] On January 31, the plane was moved move d to a secure storage facility in Kearny, New Jersey, Jersey, for the remainder of the investigation. The NTSB confirmed that bird remains had been found in [99][104] 104] The bird debris was later identified as Canada Geese  Geese through DNA  both engines. [99][ testing. The typical weight of these birds is well above abov e the limits the engines were [99] designed to withstand on impact. On February 5, the FAA released audio tape recordings and transcripts of its internal and  broadcast ATC communications relating to the accident. The entire exchange between Flight 1549 and air traffic control relating to the emergency lasted less than two minutes. As the accident A320 was assembled by the Airbus Division of the European aerospace consortium EADS at the Airbus headquarters manufacturing facilities in Toulouse, France,, under the provisions of ICAO France of ICAO  Annex 13 both the European Aviation Safety Agency  (the European counterpart of the FAA) and the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses Agency  pour la sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (the French counterpart of the NTSB) became active  participants in the accident investigation, with technical assistance provided by Airbus Industrie and GE Aviation/Snecma as manufacturers of the airframe and engines [105][106] [106] respectively.[105] Flight 1549 is the fifth take-off/departure phase accident at LaGuardia, resulting in the write off of an airframe for a commercial air carrier, ca rrier, since the field opened in 1939 1939..[107] Of  [108][109] 109] [108][

those, it is the third involving the hull loss of a US Airways/USAir plane.

[edit] edit] Awards The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Navigators  awarded the entire flight crew of Flight 1549 a Master's Medal on January 22, 2009. The medal is awarded only rarely, for outstanding aviation achievements at the discretion of the Master of the Guild Guild..[12] The citation for the award is:



The reactions of all members of the crew, c rew, the split second decision making aand nd the handling of this emergency and evacuation was 'text book' and an example to us all. To have safely executed this emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement. It



 

deserves the immediate recognition that has today been b een given by the Guild of  Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg, presented the  the Keys to the City to the crew of Flight 1549. He also gave the pilot a replacement copy of a library book lost on the flight, Just Culture: Balancing Safety and Accountability, by Sidney Dekker.[110] The civilian and uniformed rescuers received Certificates of Honor. [111] In addition, the crew of Flight 1549 were given a standing ovation prior to the start of  Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.[112] 1, 2009.

[edit] edit] Video and first person accounts

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