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US Airways Flight 1549

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Title: US Airways Flight 1549  
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Subject: Chesley Sullenberger, January 2009, 2009 Hudson River mid-air collision, Pan Am Flight 6, Garuda Indonesia Flight 421
Collection: 2009 in New Jersey, 2009 in New York, Accidents and Incidents Involving the Airbus A320, Airliner Accidents and Incidents Caused by Bird Strikes, Airliner Accidents and Incidents Caused by Engine Failure, Airliner Accidents and Incidents in New Jersey, Airliner Accidents and Incidents in New York, Airliner Accidents and Incidents in New York City, Airliner Accidents and Incidents Involving Ditching, Articles Containing Video Clips, Aviation Accidents and Incidents in the United States in 2009, Aviation in New York City, Hudson River, Transportation Accidents in New York City, US Airways Accidents and Incidents
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

US Airways Flight 1549

US Airways Flight 1549
The downed US Airways Flight 1549 floating on the Hudson River
Accident summary
Date January 15, 2009
Summary Multiple bird strikes, controlled ditching
Site In the Hudson River between New York City (near 48th Street) and Weehawken, New Jersey (near Port Imperial), United States
Passengers 150[1]
Crew 5
Injuries (non-fatal) 100 (95 minor, 5 serious)[2][3]
Fatalities 0
Survivors 155 (all)
Aircraft type Airbus A320-214
Operator US Airways
Registration N106US
Flight origin LaGuardia Airport, New York City
Stopover Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
Destination Seattle–Tacoma International Airport

US Airways Flight 1549 was an Airbus A320-200, registered N106US, operating a US Airways scheduled domestic commercial passenger flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington, with a stopover at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. On January 15, 2009, at 3:27 p.m. EST, the plane struck a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out, lost engine power, and ditched in the Hudson River off midtown Manhattan with no loss of human life.

The glided over the Hudson, finally ditching the airliner near the USS Intrepid museum about three minutes after losing power. All 155 occupants safely evacuated the airliner, which was still virtually intact though partially submerged and slowly sinking, and were quickly rescued by nearby ferries and other watercraft. The incident became known as the "Miracle on the Hudson".[4][5][6]

The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master's Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. The award citation read, "This emergency ditching and evacuation, with the loss of no lives, is a heroic and unique aviation achievement."[7] It was described by NTSB board member Kitty Higgins as "the most successful ditching in aviation history."[8][9]


  • Flight designations, route, and crew 1
  • Aircraft 2
  • Flight 3
    • Take off and bird strike 3.1
    • Ditching 3.2
  • Evacuation 4
  • Rescue 5
  • Injuries 6
  • Aftermath 7
  • Investigation 8
  • Awards 9
  • Real time video and first person accounts 10
  • Display of airframe at the Carolinas Aviation Museum 11
  • Dramatization 12
  • Song reference 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16
    • US Airways press releases 16.1
    • Other links 16.2

Flight designations, route, and crew

LaGuardia Runway 4 Departure

US Airways Flight 1549 (also designated under a Star Alliance codeshare agreement as United Airlines Flight 1919) was a domestic route from New York City's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Charlotte/Douglas (CLT), North Carolina, with direct onward service to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in Washington.

On January 15, 2009, the flight was cleared for takeoff from Runway 4 at LaGuardia at 3:24:56 pm EST (20:24:56 UTC). The crew made its first report after becoming airborne at 3:25:51 as being at 700 feet (210 m) and climbing.[10] There were 150 passengers and five crew members, the captain, first officer, and three flight attendants, on board.[1][11]

The pilot in command was 57-year-old Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, a former fighter pilot who had been an airline pilot since leaving the United States Air Force in 1980. At the time of the accident, Captain Sullenberger had logged a total of 19,663 flight hours, 4,765 of which were accumulated in A320 aircraft. He is also a safety expert and a glider pilot.[12][13][14] The first officer was Jeffrey B. Skiles, 49,[13][15][16] who was on the last leg of his first assignment in the Airbus A320 since passing the training course to fly the type.[17] First Officer Skiles had accrued 15,643 flight hours throughout his career.


The aircraft was an Airbus A320-214, registered N106US, powered by two GE Aviation/Snecma-designed CFM56-5B4/P turbofan engines.[18] One of 74 A320s then in service in the US Airways fleet,[19] it was built by Airbus 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, as owner/lessor[20] with AIG listed as the lead insurer.[21]

The aircraft's FAA-required maintenance records,[22] 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, and the last C Check (annual comprehensive inspection) on April 19, 2008.[18][23]

The Airbus A320 is a digital fly-by-wire aircraft: the flight control surfaces are moved by electrical and 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, which is particularly useful after engine failure by allowing the pilots to concentrate on engine restart and landing planning.[24]

The mechanical energy of the two engines is the primary source of routine electrical power and hydraulic pressure for the aircraft flight control systems.[25] 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 turbine that can be deployed into the airstream to provide backup hydraulic pressure and electrical power at certain speeds.[25] 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.[25]

Ditching button (the central square orange area) on the overhead panel of an Airbus A330.

The Airbus A320 has a "ditching" button that closes valves and openings underneath the aircraft, including the outflow valve, the air inlet for the emergency RAT, the avionics inlet, the extract valve, and the flow control valve. It is meant to slow flooding in a water landing.[26] The flight crew did not activate the "ditch switch" during the incident.[27] Sullenberger later noted that it probably would not have been effective anyway, since the force of the water impact tore holes in the plane's fuselage much larger than the openings sealed by the switch.[17]


Take off and bird strike

Air traffic control audio from about impact until ditching (3:10 long)

Problems playing this file? See .

First Officer Skiles was at the controls of the flight when it took off to the northeast from Runway 4 at 3:25 pm, and was the first to notice a formation of birds approaching the aircraft about two minutes later, while passing through an altitude of about 2,700 feet (820 m)[4] on the initial climb out to 15,000 feet (4,600 m). According to FDR data, the bird encounter occurred at 3:27:11, when the airplane was at an altitude of 2,818 feet above ground level (agl) and a distance of about 4.5 miles north-northwest of the approach end of Runway 22 at LGA. Subsequently, the airplane's altitude continued to increase while the airspeed decreased, until 3:27:30, when the airplane reached its highest altitude of about 3,060 feet (930 m), at an airspeed of about 185 kts calibrated airspeed (KCAS). The altitude then started to decrease as the airspeed started to increase, reaching 210 KCAS at 3:28:10 at an altitude of about 1,650 feet (500 m). The windshield quickly turned dark brown and several loud thuds were heard. Capt. Sullenberger took the controls, while Skiles began going through the three-page emergency procedures checklist in an attempt to restart the engines.[2]

At 3:27:36, using the call sign "Cactus 1539 [sic]",[28] the flight radioed air traffic controllers at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON)[29] "Hit birds. We've lost thrust on both engines. We're turning 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 cabin.[30][31][32] Responding to the captain's report of a bird strike, controller Patrick Harten, who was working the departure position[33] told LaGuardia tower to hold all waiting departures on the ground, and gave Flight 1549 a heading to return to LaGuardia and told him that he could land to the southeast on Runway 13.[29] Sullenberger responded that he was "unable" to do so.[29]

The aircraft headed approximately north after takeoff, then wheeled anti-clockwise to follow the Hudson southwards
Flightpath flown (red). Alternative trajectories to Teterboro (blue) and back toward La Guardia (purple) were simulated for the investigation.

Sullenberger asked if they could attempt an emergency landing in

  • "Information on the accident that occurred in New York on January 15, 2009". Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile. January 16, 2009.
  • Krūms, Jānis (January 15, 2009). "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy". TwitPic.
  • "USAirways 1549 (AWE1549), January 15, 2009". Federal Aviation Administration. March 2, 2009.
  • "Flight 1549 Alternate Audio, Multi-Perspective Composite Animation". Leaders in Scientific Visualization. YouTube. November 12, 2009.
  • "Cactus Flight 1549 Accident Reconstruction (US Airways Animation)". Exosphere3D.
  • "Analysis of Training for Emergency Water Landings Questions Assumptions, Inconsistencies" (PDF). Cabin Crew Safety (The Flight Safety Foundation) 33 (6). November–December 1998. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  • "Stress, Behavior, Training and Safety (in Emergency Evacuation)" (PDF). Cabin Crew Safety (The Flight Safety Foundation) 25 (3). May–June 1990. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  • Corrigan, Douglas (April 2011). "The Demise of the Airline Pilot". Culture Wars.
  • "'The Miracle on the Hudson' Teaser. Process Pictures, LLC. Vimeo. 2012.
  • "Hudson Miracel Approach Chart". Jeppesen.
  • Photos of the Airbus.
  • Gould, Jay (Jan 17, 2009). "Stayed high & dry on my trip to N.C.". Daily News. New York. 

Other links

  • "US Airways Flight 1549 Initial Report". Tempe, Arizona. January 15, 2009
  • "Press Release: "Press Release: US Airways Flight 1549 Update #2". Tempe, Arizona. January 15, 2009
  • "Press Release: US Airways Flight 1549 Update #3". Tempe, Arizona. January 15, 2009
  • "US Airways Flight 1549 Update #7". Tempe, Arizona. January 16, 2009
  • "US Airways Flight 1549 Update #8". Tempe, Arizona. January 16, 2009
  • "US Airways Update Regarding Crew of Flight 1549". Tempe, Arizona. January 16, 2009
  • Parker, Doug (January 15, 2009). "US Airways CEO Doug Parker makes statement regarding flight 1549". US Airways. Tempe, Arizona. January 16, 2009
  • "US Airways CEO Doug Parker Invited to Speak at Honor Ceremony Regarding Flight 1549". Tempe, Arizona. January 16, 2009
  • "US Airways update regarding crew of flight 1549". Tempe Arizona, January 19, 2009.

US Airways press releases

External links

  1. ^ a b "US Airways Flight 1549 Update # 3" (Press release). US Airways. January 15, 2009. Archived from the original on Jan 19, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Loss of Thrust in Both Engines After Encountering a Flock of Birds and Subsequent Ditching on the Hudson River: US Airways Flight 1549 (Report). National Transportation Safety Board. May 4, 2010.
  3. ^ A serious injury is defined as any injury that (1) requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, starting within 7 days from the date that the injury was received; (2) results in a fracture of any bone, except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or the nose; (3) causes severe hemorrhages or nerve, muscle, or tendon damage; (4) involves any internal organ; or (5) involves second- or third-degree burns or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface. A minor injury is defined as any injury that does not qualify as a fatal or serious injury. 49 CFR 830.2
  4. ^ a b "Live Flight Track Log (AWE1549) 15-Jan-2009 KLGA-KLGA".  
  5. ^ "US Airways Flight 1549 Initial Report" (Press release).  
  6. ^ "US Airways Flight 1549 Update # 2" (Press release). US Airways. January 15, 2009. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Turner, Celia. "US Airways Flight 1549 Crew receive prestigious Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Award". Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Olshan, Jeremy; Livingston, Ikumulisa (January 17, 2009). "Quiet Air Hero is Captain America".  
  9. ^ Flight 1549 was not the first successful ditching. In 1956, Pan Am Flight 6 ditched in the Pacific Ocean with no lives lost after the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser lost of its four engines.
  10. ^ a b "US Airways #1549".  
  11. ^ "US Airways flight 1549 Airline releases crew information". US Airways. January 16, 2009. Archived at Internet Archive. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  12. ^ Goldman, Russell (January 15, 2009). "US Airways Hero Pilot Searched Plane Twice Before Leaving".  
  13. ^ a b Mangan, Dan (January 16, 2009). "Hero Pilots Disabled Plane to Safety". New York Post. Retrieved February 11, 2009. 
  14. ^ Westfeldt, Amy; Long, Colleen; James, Susan (January 15, 2009). "Hudson River Hero Is Ex-Air Force Fighter Pilot".  
  15. ^ "Family of copilot from Hudson River plane crash speaks". Charleston, South Carolina:  
  16. ^ Forster, Stacy (January 16, 2009). "Co-pilot braved frigid waters to retrieve vests for passengers".  
  17. ^ a b "Sully's Tale". Air & Space magazine. Retrieved February 23, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Factbox-Downed US Airways plane had 16,000 take-offs".  
  19. ^ "US Airways – Details and Fleet History". Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  20. ^ "N-Number Inquiry Results".  
  21. ^ Phillips, Zack (January 16, 2009). "AIG leads US Airways crash coverage". Business Insurance ( 
  22. ^ "CFR 121.380.2 Maintenance recording requirements".  
  23. ^ "US Airways Flight 1549 Update #7." US Airways. January 16, 2009. Retrieved on June 11, 2009.
  24. ^ William Langewiesche (February 7, 2010). "The miracle plane crash-landing on the Hudson River". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  25. ^ a b c Pasztor, Andy; Carey, Susan (January 20, 2009). "Backup System Helped Pilot Control Jet". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  26. ^ Ostrower, Jon (January 17, 2009). "The Airbus Ditching Button".  
  27. ^ a b c d e Neumeister, Larry; Caruso, David B.; Goldman, Adam; Long, Colleen (January 17, 2009). "NTSB: Pilot landed in Hudson to avoid catastroph".  
  28. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (February 5, 2009). "Was Flight 1549's Pilot Fearful? If So, His Voice Didn't Let On". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  29. ^ a b c d Sniffen, Michael J. (January 16, 2009). "Pilot rejected 2 airport landings". San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 17, 2009. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  30. ^ Wald, Matthew L.; Baker, Al (January 18, 2009). """1549 to Tower: "We're Gonna End Up in the Hudson. The New York Times. p. A29. Retrieved February 9, 2009. 
  31. ^ Trotta, Daniel; Crawley, John (January 15, 2009). "New York hails pilot who landed jetliner on river".  
  32. ^ "Turbofan Engine Malfunction Recognition and Response Final Report" (DOC).  
  33. ^ Lowy, Joan; Sniffen, Michael J. (February 24, 2009). "Controller Thought Plane That Ditched Was Doomed". ABC News. Archived from the original on Feb 26, 2009. Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  34. ^ a b "Memorandum: Full Transcript: Aircraft Accident, AWE1549, New York City, NY, January 15, 2009" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. June 19, 2009. p. page 4. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  35. ^ a b c d e Brooks, Mike; Meserve, Jeanne; Ahlers, Mike (January 15, 2009). "Airplane crash-lands into Hudson River; all aboard reported safe". CNN. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  36. ^ a b Fausset, Richard; Muskal, Michael (January 16, 2009). "US Airways investigation focuses on missing engines".  
  37. ^ a b McLaughlin, Martin (January 17, 2009). "The world needed a hero. The pilot of the Hudson River air crash answered the call". The Scotsman (Edinburgh:  
  38. ^ Belson, Ken (January 15, 2009). "Updates From Plane Rescue in Hudson River". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  39. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (January 15, 2009). "Pilot Is Hailed After Jetliner's Icy Plunge". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  40. ^ a b Karen Matthews, Victor Epstein, Harry Weber, Jason Dearen, Lou Kesten, Joan Lowy (January 19, 2009). "Plane's recorders lend support hero pilot's story". Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, WV). Associated Press. Retrieved Aug 1, 2013. 
  41. ^ a b Presenters: Katie Couric, Steve Kroft (February 8, 2009). "Hero pilot, Plane, Coldplay". 60 Minutes. Season 40. CBS. KCBS-TV.
  42. ^ McCartney, Scott (March 25, 2009). "It's Sully, Don't Hang Up". WSJ Blogs. Retrieved April 3, 2009. 
  43. ^ Tom Petri, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, page 69, February 11, 2009.
  44. ^ Rockoff, Jonathan D.; Holmes, Elisabeth (January 16, 2009). "Pilot Lands Jet on Hudson, Saving All Aboard". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  45. ^ Wilson, Michael; Buettner, Russ (January 16, 2009). "After Splash, Nerves, Heroics and Comedy". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  46. ^ a b c Curkin, Scott; Monek, Bob (January 17, 2009). "Miracle on the Hudson River".  
  47. ^ "'Miracle' pilot visits memorial". WKYT. November 15, 2012.
  48. ^ "UPDATE: Miracle on the Hudson". WMTV/Associated Press. 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  49. ^ a b Schwartz, Art (February 2, 2014). "Hero on the Hudson". The Union City Reporter. p. 3 and 5.
  50. ^ Science Aids Hudson Rescue Workers U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  51. ^ Kindergan, Ashley (January 16, 2009). "'"Young captain reacts like 'seasoned pro. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  52. ^ Pyle, Richard (January 18, 2009). "Commuter ferries to rescue in NYC crash landing". The Boston Globe, RealClearPolitics.  
  53. ^ a b "Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash". Channel 4. Retrieved February 20, 2009. 
  54. ^ Baum, Geraldine; Gold, Matea (January 16, 2009). "All on US Airways plane are safe – within 5 minutes of crash landing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  55. ^ Goldman, Russell; Esposito, Rich; Friedman, Emily (January 16, 2009). "Passengers: First Engine on Fire, Then Frigid Water".  
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  57. ^ a b Schuster, Karla; Bleyer, Bill; Chang, Sophia; DeStefano, Anthony M.; Lam, Chau; Mason, Bill; McGowan, Carl; Parascandola, Rocco; Strickler, Andrew (January 16, 2009). "Commuter ferries, passengers aid in crash victim rescues". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on Jan 16, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  58. ^ Heightman, A.J. (January 15, 2009). "Airplane Crash Showcases Emergency Readiness". Journal of Emergency Medical Services ( 
  59. ^ Wilson, Michael; Baker, Al (January 15, 2009). "A Quick Rescue Kept Death Toll at Zero". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  60. ^ Applebome, Peter (January 18, 2009). "A Small Town's Recurring Role as a Rescue Beacon". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  61. ^ Audio from FDNY Manhattan Dispatch, 01/15/09 at 16:46
  62. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (January 16, 2009). "Pilot Is Hailed After Jetliner's Icy Plunge". The New York Times. p. A24. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  63. ^ ""A Testament to Experienced Airline Flight Personnel Doing Their Jobs". Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI). Retrieved May 29, 2014.
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  65. ^ Smith, Robert; Block, Melissa (February 12, 2009). "Passengers Treated For Hypothermia".  
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  75. ^ "Chesley B. Sully Sullenberger Praised By Obama". Huffington Post. January 16, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  76. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (January 19, 2009). "Obama Invites Flight 1549 Pilot and Crew to Inauguration". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2009. 
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  98. ^ "NTSB Confirms Birds In Engines Of Flight 1549".  
  99. ^ ICAO Annex 13
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  121. ^ Carpenter, Marla (June 8, 2011). "UNCSA FILM STUDENTS ARE DOCUMENTING MOVE OF 'MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON' PLANE TO CHARLOTTE MUSEUM". University of North Carolina.
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  130. ^  


See also

The incident is referenced in the song "A Real Hero" by College, best known from the 2011 movie Drive. The lyrics of the second verse describe the water landing and the survival of all 155 passengers and crew from the sinking vehicle.[129] In addition, Garrison Keillor honored the entire flight crew by writing a song and performing it on his show, A Prairie Home Companion.[130]

Song reference

It was also recreated in the UK for the National Geographic Channel under the title Miracle Landing On The Hudson.

The story of the disaster was featured on the tenth season of Canadian National Geographic Channel show Mayday in an episode entitled "Hudson River Runway"[128] (known as Air Emergency in the US, Mayday in Ireland and Air Crash Investigation in the UK and the rest of world).


The Carolinas Aviation Museum held a reception on June 11 to commemorate the final "arrival" of Flight 1549 to Charlotte with Captain Sullenberger as keynote speaker. The 150 passengers from the flight were invited to the event.[124][125] By the end of 2012 both wings and engines had been added to the display. (In October 2013 the engines were not at display in the Museum).[126][127]

The damaged airframe was acquired by the Carolinas Historic Aviation Commission for display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The fuselage was placed on display in the same configuration as it was when it was pulled out of the Hudson River in January 2009, rather than being restored.[123]

N106US on display at Carolinas Aviation Museum

Display of airframe at the Carolinas Aviation Museum

  • On February 19, 2009, Channel 4 (UK) aired a documentary entitled The Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash which included first person and eyewitness accounts of the accident from passengers, rescuers, and witnesses.[53]
  • On February 21, 2009, KGO-TV in San Francisco broadcast an interview in the "Face to Face" series. Dan Ashley talked to Captain and Mrs. Sullenberger about their experiences during and since the accident.[117]
  • On March 4, 2009, the Discovery Channel broadcast a film entitled Hudson Plane Crash – What Really Happened, a one-hour documentary examining the circumstances surrounding the accident and rescue with computer-generated imagery (CGI) animations of the flight, and interviews with passengers, crew, witnesses, rescuers, and experts in the field of aviation safety.[118]
  • On Sunday, January 10, 2010, TLC aired a documentary entitled Brace For Impact. The same special aired on April 14 in Australia under the name Brace For Impact: Inside The Hudson Plane Crash.[119]
  • In March 2011, Ric Elias, a front-row passenger on Flight 1549 shared his experience of the crash during a TED Conference.[120]
  • Beginning in June 2011, The University of North Carolina School of Filmmaking and Process Pictures, LLC are working closely with The Carolinas Aviation Museum to produce a documentary about the event, as well as the ongoing impact it has had on society.[121][122]
  • "A Routine Takeoff Turns Ugly"[114]
  • "Flight 1549: Saving 155 Souls In Minutes"[115]
  • "Flight 1549: An Emotional Reunion"[116]
  • Within 35 minutes of the crash, survivor Alberto Panero, contacted by a CNN producer on the scene, was interviewed live on-air by Wolf Blitzer, giving viewers a firsthand account of the incident.[113]
  • On February 8, 2009, the CBS program 60 Minutes broadcast three segments that included interviews with the aircrew as well as their reunion with the flight's passengers. The program aired again on July 5, 2009.

Unless they happen at a major airport, most commercial airline accidents generally occur without any "real time" video or photographic record of the event. However, the circumstance of Flight 1549's river ditching in a heavily populated metropolitan area during daylight hours (and in this case, the beginning of a major city's evening rush hour) was an exception,[112] with video of the accident captured and recorded by multiple nearby closed circuit television surveillance camera systems. That, along with the survival of all 155 passengers and crew virtually uninjured, made possible the relatively rapid production and broadcast of multiple television reports and documentaries containing both extensive real time video of the actual ditching and rescue, and extensive recorded first person accounts by the aircrew, passengers, rescuers, and other key participants. Included among those broadcast accounts were:

Real time video and first person accounts

In August 2010, Jeppesen issued an Approach plate titled "Hudson Miracle APCH", dedicated to the five crew of Flight 1549 and annotated "Presented with Pride and Gratitude from your friends at Jeppesen".[111]

On July 28, passengers Dave Sanderson and Barry Leonard organized a thank you luncheon for emergency responders from Hudson County, New Jersey, on the shores of Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, New Jersey, less than a mile north of where the plane made its landing, and where 57 of the passengers had been brought following their rescue. Present at the luncheon were members from the U.S. Coast Guard, North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, NY Waterway Ferries, the American Red Cross, Weehawken Volunteer First Aid, the Weehawken Police Department, West New York E.M.S., North Bergen E.M.S., the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey E.M.S. Task Force, the Guttenberg Police Department, McCabe Ambulance, the Harrison Police Department, and doctors and nurses who treated survivors for hypothermia and other injuries following the incident.[109][110]

The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, presented 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.[106] The civilian and uniformed rescuers received Certificates of Honor.[107] In addition, the crew of Flight 1549 were given a standing ovation prior to the start of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.[108]

The Guild of Air Pilots and Air 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.[7] The citation for the award is:


The NTSB concluded its investigation on May 4, 2010. It determined the probable cause of the accident to be "the ingestion of large birds into each engine, which resulted in an almost total loss of thrust in both engines". The accompanying statement credited the accident outcome to the fact that the aircraft was carrying safety equipment in excess of that mandated for the flight, and excellent cockpit resource management among the flight crew. Contributing factors were the good visibility and fast response from the various ferry operators. Captain Sullenberger's decision to ditch in the Hudson River was validated by the NTSB.[102] The final report was published on May 28.[2]

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 since the field opened in 1939.[103] Of those, it is the third involving the hull loss of a US Airways/USAir plane.[104][105]

The NTSB ran a series of tests using Airbus simulators in France, to see if Flight 1549 could have returned safely to their choice of LGA, either runway 13 or 22, or TEB runway 19. The test pilots were fully briefed on the series of events and maneuvers. The test pilots were only able to return successfully to either airport in eight of 15 attempts. The NTSB report noted that these test conditions were unrealistic: "The immediate turn made by the pilots during the simulations did not reflect or account for real-world considerations..." A single follow-up simulation was conducted where the pilot was delayed by 35 seconds: He crashed trying to return to LGA runway 22.[102]

The A320 had been assembled by the Airbus Division of the European aerospace consortium EADS, at the Airbus headquarters manufacturing facilities in Toulouse, France; therefore, under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13,[99] both the European Aviation Safety Agency (the European counterpart of the FAA) and the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses 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 respectively.[100][101]

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.

On January 21, the NTSB noted that organic debris, including a single feather, as well as evidence of soft-body damage, was found in the right engine.[94][95] The left engine was recovered from the river on January 23 and, like the right engine, was missing a large portion of its housing.[96] 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.[97] On January 31, the plane was moved to a secure storage facility in Kearny, New Jersey, for the remainder of the investigation. The NTSB confirmed that bird remains had been found in both engines.[93][98] The bird debris was later identified, through DNA testing, as the remains of Canada Geese, the typical weights of which are well above the limits of impact for which the engines were designed.[93]

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 were told they might have to make an emergency landing.[91][92] However, the affected engine was restarted and the flight continued to Charlotte. The NTSB later reported that this engine surge had been 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.[93]

Shortly after the event, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokeswoman Laura Brown said that the plane "may have flown into a flock of birds."[88] A 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.[89] The preliminary report of the incident, published on January 16, states that the aircraft went down following a bird strike.[90] This conclusion, and the simultaneous loss of thrust in both engines, was confirmed by preliminary analysis of the cockpit voice 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.[40]

Feather found in left (#1) engine
The fuselage being towed to a salvage facility


On January 21, 2010, it was announced that the plane involved in the crash would be auctioned off "as-is where-is." The engines were not included in the auction, and it was noted that the fuselage had major water and impact damage.[87] The Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, has taken possession of the plane.

To prevent similar incidents, workers from the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the city's Parks and Recreation Department and Environmental Protection Departments descended on 17 locations across New York capturing and gassing 1,235 Canada Geese in June and July 2009.[86] The Agriculture Department undertook another goose control measure by coating 1,739 eggs with corn oil, which kills developing goslings by depriving them of air.[86]

The passengers on the aircraft each received a letter of apology, $5,000 in compensation for lost baggage, or $5,000 more if passengers can demonstrate more than $5,000 in losses, and a refund of the ticket price.[83][84] Beginning in May 2009, passengers received their baggage and other belongings. In addition, passengers reported they were offered $10,000 each not to sue US Airways for damages by American International Group (AIG), the airline's insurance carrier.[85]

The method used to recover the submerged airframe from the water rendered it uneconomical to repair and the airliner was written off.[82] The rear pressure bulkhead was also damaged in the accident, and the salvage contractor, Weeks Marine, cut off the wings and empennage.

Following the rescue, the Airbus A320 remained afloat, though partially submerged, and was quickly moored to a pier near the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan, roughly 4 miles (6 km) downstream from where it had ditched.[36] The left engine had detached from the aircraft during the ditching and was recovered several days later from the river bottom, 65 feet (20 m) below the surface.[77] The water was so murky that the right engine was initially thought to have also detached, but it was later found to be still in place on the aircraft (with much of its nacelle missing).[78] On January 17, the aircraft was removed from the Hudson River and placed on a barge.[79][80] The aircraft was then moved to New Jersey for examination.[81]

The flight crew, particularly Captain Sullenberger, were widely praised for their actions during the incident, notably by [74] Then President-elect Barack Obama said that everyone was proud of Sullenberger's "heroic and graceful job in landing the damaged aircraft", and thanked the A320's crew, whom he invited to attend his inauguration as President in Washington, D.C., five days later. He also invited those who had helped ensure the safety of all 155 people aboard.[75][76]

At 4:57 pm fire crews began to stand down. At 5:07 pm Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways, issued an official statement during a press conference in Tempe, Arizona, in which he confirmed that the flight had been involved in an accident.[71]

The downed A320 tied up alongside Battery Park City
The plane being recovered from the Hudson River during the night of January 17.


Delayed psychological effects were experienced as a result of the accident and rescue. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress including sleeplessness, flashbacks, and panic attacks 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 support group to help ease the aftereffects of the experience.[69] 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 the entire event was when it was over" during which he was continually "gripped by raw moments of shock and grief."[70]

Hospitals that treated patients included Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in Greenwich Village; St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, which admitted ten people; New York Downtown Hospital, which treated three passengers; and Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, New Jersey, which treated five patients for hypothermia.[66] In all, 24 passengers and two rescue personnel were treated at hospitals,[67] while others were cared for in triage facilities.[35] 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."[68] Only two passengers were required to stay overnight in a hospital. One of them, Dave Sanderson, was taken to Palisade Medical Center, and treated for hypothermia. It took hospital staff hours to bring his temperature back to normal. Due to jet fuel that seeped into his eyes, he now wears glasses.[49]

There were five serious injuries,[2] one of which was a deep laceration in flight attendant Doreen Welsh's leg.[27][63] In total, 78 people were treated, mostly for minor injuries[64] and hypothermia.[65]


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 Weehawken side of the river, where most passengers were taken.[60] Two mutual aid helicopters responded to the West 30th Street Heliport, one from the Nassau County Police and another from the New Jersey State Police.[61] New York Water Taxi sent boats to the scene but did not take part in the rescue.[62]

The FDNY sent four marine units and rescue divers.[57] On land, FDNY declared a level III (All Hands) emergency and mobilized their Major Emergency Response Vehicle, Logistical Support Units and had 35 ambulances ready for patients coming off the flight.[58][59] About 140 FDNY firefighters responded to docks near the crash.[57] The NYPD sent squad cars, helicopters, vessels, and rescue divers from the Aviation Unit and Harbor Unit.

Within minutes,[54] vessels from the New York City Fire and Police Departments (FDNY and NYPD), the USCG,[55] and a privately owned former Coast Guard Buoy Tender were on scene to help with the rescue and recovery effort.[56] All of the passengers and crew were rescued safely.[35]

Local commercial vessels from the NY Waterway and Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises fleets responded almost immediately to the emergency. NY Waterway ferry Thomas Jefferson, commanded by Captain Vincent Lombardi, was first on the scene arriving at 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,[51] was the second rescue craft to arrive reaching the plane a few minutes later.[52] Catanzaro reported to radio station WNYC that she and her crew used a Jason's cradle to facilitate people climbing onto the ferry. 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. 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.[46] The slides eventually detached from the fuselage to form life rafts.[35] At one point, as the 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.[53]

The sunken plane in the Hudson River surrounded by Coast Guard, FDNY, NYPD, and ferryboats. Only the plane's vertical stabilizer is visible above water.
Video from 20 minutes after ditching, with numerous ferries and rescue boats surrounding the aircraft


Evacuees, some wearing life-vests, waited for rescue on the partly submerged slides knee-deep in frigid river water. Others stood on the wings or, fearing an explosion, swam away from the plane.[41] Air temperature at the time was about 20 °F (−7 °C), and the water was 36 °F (2 °C) (32 °F (0 °C) surface temperature).[27][50]

Sullenberger twice walked the length of the cabin to confirm that no one remained inside after the plane had been evacuated.[37][45][46] Sources differ as to who was the last person off the plane, with some stating that it was Sullenberger,[47] and others stating that it was passenger[46][48] Dave Sanderson, who had assisted others in evacuating the craft, only to find upon reaching the exterior that the wings were too crowded with passengers waiting to be picked up by the rescue boats. Having no alternative, Sanderson jumped into the freezing river and swam to the nearest boat.[49]

Immediately after the A320 had been ditched in mid-river, Sullenberger opened the cockpit door and gave the "evacuate" order, and the aircrew began evacuating the 150 passengers, both on to the wings through the four mid-cabin emergency window exits and into an inflatable slide that doubles as a life raft, deployed from the front right passenger door (the front left slide failed to operate as intended), while the partially submerged and slowly sinking airliner drifted downriver 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/raft, although the port side raft did not immediately deploy; a manual inflation handle was pulled. One rear door was opened by a panicking passenger, causing the A320 to fill more quickly with water. The flight attendant in the rear who attempted to reseal the rear door was unable to do so.[41] The impact with the water had ripped open a hole in the underside of the airplane and twisted the fuselage, causing cargo doors to pop open and filling the plane with water from the rear.[42] 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.[43][44]

Coast Guard video (8:07 long) of the crash and rescue; splashdown is at 3:31:02 pm


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 ditching in aviation history."[8] "These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, no lives were lost."[40]

The plane ended its six-minute flight at 3:31 pm with an unpowered ditching while heading south at about 130 knots (150 mph; 240 km/h) in the middle of the North River section of the Hudson River roughly abeam West 50th Street (near the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum) in Manhattan and Port Imperial in 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 Waterway on either side of the Hudson River and a third used by tour boat operator Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises.[10][37] The ditching location was approximately .[38] After coming to a stop in the river, the plane began drifting southward with the current.[39]


[36] and the flight attendants instructed the passengers how to do so.[35]",brace for impact About 90 seconds before touchdown, the captain announced, "[35]

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