On Thursday January 15, 2008, US Airways flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the frigid Hudson River after attempting to take off from Manhattan’s LaGuardia Airport. The plane, bound for Charlotte, N.C., took off at 3:26 p.m. eastern time. Less than a minute later, the pilot reported a “double bird strike” and radioed that he needed to return to LaGuardia. Air traffic controllers initially gave the pilot instructions to return to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, but the pilot replied, “unable.” Teterboro airstrip in the northern New Jersey suburbs was also recommended, but the pilot again responded, “unable.”and that he was going into the river. Witnesses from nearby buildings watched the plane steadily descend into the icy Hudson for a splash landing on it’s belly. The aircraft didn’t bounce and came to a relatively fast stop. After the impact, the plane quickly became submerged up to its windows in the 36-degree water. It is believed that the plane encountered a flock of geese and that some of them may have flown into one or both of the jet’s engines.
Passengers and Crew
The plane was carrying 155 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants. Everyone on-board was evacuated via life rafts and a flotilla of Coast Guard vessels, ferries, water taxis and tourist boats. Dozens of passengers stood on the aircraft’s wings until resuce craft could carry them to safety. There were 78 injuries reported in the crash including hypothermia, bruising and some broken bones.
As of Friday January 16, 2008 National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were on scene. Officials said the cause of the crash was under investigation, but initial reports suggested the plane may have hit birds after taking off. Federal investigators said the left engine of the US Airways jetliner was missing. The aircraft, was tethered to a pier on the tip of lower Manhattan on Friday — about four miles from where it touched down. Investigators will begin focusing on recovery of the missing engine and the black box. They also plan on interviewing the crew.
The aircraft involved in the accident was a Airbus A320 built in 1999 with registration number N106US.
US Airways operates hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix and is the fifth largest airline in the United States. A member of the Star Alliance, it has a fleet of 353 mainline jet aircraft and 319 regional jet and turbo-prop aircraft connecting 200 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe.