US Airways Airbus Crashes in the Hudson River


US Airways flight 1549 on 15JAN2009 has crash landed in the icy Hudson River in New York City shortly after take-off from New York La Guardia airport. The Airbus A320 was heading to Charlotte, North Carolina with 155 people on board, including the 2 pilots and 3 flight attendants, of whom ALL escaped successfully after the water landing.

US Airways Airbus in the Hudson River in New York City - from webpark.ru

First reports claim, that the plane (registration: N106US, first flight in 1999) took off at 15:26 local time, and soon afterwards passengers heard some sort of an explosion and the plane started shaking. The FAA has disclosed that less than one minute after take-off, the pilot reported “a double bird strike” after colliding with a flock of birds. Soon after the explosion the plane started to turn around and asked for clearance for an emergency landing at La Guardia, just east of Manhattan in Queens which it was granted. Later the pilot chose to try to land at Teterboro which was closer, but couldn’t make it there, either – which resulted in the first controlled emergency landing on water of a US commercial aircraft in more than 50 years at 15:30 local time (less than 6 minutes after takeoff). He informed the passengers “to get ready for the impact” and landed in the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, just across New Jersey. Passengers claim it simply felt like a car-accident. Witnesses reported that the plane landed very softly on the river, slowly touching down on the surface at around 48th street, without making a bounce (more about the dangers of such bounces in our earlier article: How to survive an Air Crash?)

Air temperature at the time was -6 Celsius, with the water being +6 C. Television images taken shortly after the accident showed that the aircraft appeared intact and just partially submerged, with local ferry boats quickly rushing to the scene and taking all passengers and crew onboard from the deployed slides/rafts, saving them from being chilled as the aircraft subsequently began to sink. Many were photographed standing on the wings. Passengers have reported that there was indeed some panic onboard after the landing, but the crew was professional in getting them all out of the aircraft through the doors, with women and children first. The 57 year old ex Air Force pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger was the last to leave the plane sweaping the center aisle twice to make sure nobody was left behind! He has been flying with US Airways since 1980 and just one day after the accident it regarded as a Hero (similar to the pilot of British Airways flight 038 last year).

US Airways Airbus in the Hudson River in New York City - c by NBC

There were widespread but unconfirmed reports of various injuries, including cuts, broken bones and hypothermia, but nothing life threatening. Victims were treated at local hospitals.

Our preliminary report is that everyone is off the plane and accounted for,” US Airways Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said, adding that it was “premature to speculate about the cause.” Such planes as the Airbus A320 can easily survive the strike of one bird in one of the engines, but hitting 4-5 birds at the same time can cause such an accident as this one.

Landing such an Airbus A320 airliner on water with such precision has never happened before and is claimed as a miracle by many. This type of aircraft typically lands at a speed of around 250 km/hour and hitting the water surface with such speed may make a lot of damage to the fuselage and could practically tear off the engines and the wings or even break the cabin apart – which would result in quick sinking. But luckily this hasn’t happened and the plane landed safely.

This was the second take-off accident in the US within a month that all passengers survived, as on December 20, 2008, a Continental Airlines Boeing slid off the runway in Denver. About a month and a half  ago on November 28, 2008, an Airbus A320 crashed in water on a test-flight, killing 7 people onboard.

by balint01

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14 Responses to “US Airways Airbus Crashes in the Hudson River”


  1. 1 coffee January 16, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash, sounds like the pilot did a great job

  2. 2 The Intellectual Redneck January 17, 2009 at 12:00 am

    These are very lucky people.

  3. 3 szafi January 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Yep, it’s a great luck and congrats to the pilot!

    If anyone is interested in how bords can down a plane, here is a good article from Aviation.com:
    http://www.aviation.com/safety/090115-aviation-engine-strike.html

  4. 4 The Intellectual Redneck January 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    At about the two minute mark you can see US Air Flight 1549 skid into the Hudson. Then, you can see the passengers climb out onto the wings. This video is 10 minutes long. Actual video of Flight 1549 skidding into the Hudson.

  5. 5 The Intellectual Redneck January 19, 2009 at 12:49 am

    “We’re gonna be in the Hudson”

    Those were the exact words the pilot of the ‘miracle flight’ told air traffic controllers right before ditching the plane in the Hudson River. The flight attendants yelled, “Brace! Brace! Head down!”

  6. 6 balint01 January 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The plane has been taken out of the Hudson river as seen on this picture on airliners.net:

    http://www.airliners.net/photo/US-Airways/Airbus-A320-214/1466230/L/

  7. 7 balint01 January 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    According to AirSafe, Thursday’s flight was the first controlled ditching of a commercial jet since May 1970, when an ALM DC-9 on its way from New York JFK to St. Maarten executed a water landing after three missed approaches and an attempted diversion to St. Croix. Twenty-three of the 63 people onboard were killed.
    In October 1963 an Aeroflot Tu-124 diverted to Leningrad with a landing gear problem and ran out of fuel. It landed in the Neva River. All 52 onboard survived.

  8. 8 Burnelli Support Group January 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    It is a miracle that there was no loss of life in this Airbus 320 crash. Most of it is attributed to the pilot’s skill and a whole lot of luck. Why is this said in every crash where the plane and or people survive mostly intact?

    Wouldn’t it be the ideal to have a plane that you expect to withstand a crash like this, one that wouldn’t break up in a hard, emergency crash landing on land or water or even in a simple runway overrun?

    Check this out. Google GB-888A and look at this design compared to standard of airliners today. The designer of this beautiful, safer, quieter, more fuel efficient, advanced design, Vincent Burnelli, built 9 planes previous to this design. ( http://www.aircrash.org/burnelli/chrono1.htm and designed more until his death in 1964 – http://www.aircrash.org/burnelli/chrono2.htm ) They all flew wonderfully. One crashed, nose down at 130mph, did a cartwheel and it was all caught on film. Check it out here: http://www.aircrash.org/burnelli/movies/ub14crash.mov All on board walked away, the cabin was completely intact and there was no fire.

    How can we continue to build planes where it is deemed a miracle if people survive the crash, if the plane holds together or if it doesn’t explode into flames? It should be the norm that “none” of these things happen, with fatalities or fire a rarity. This technology has been ignored long enough.

    Please support the movement to restore this plane design to its rightful place as the safest, most economical, most forward thinking design in the last 100 years of flight. The BWB that Boeing is working on has nothing on this more efficient design in cost to build, cost to fly, air fares or safety.

    Contact The Burnelli Company to see how you can support this effort. http://www.burnelli.com/Contact_Us.html

    See a flying model of the GB-888 here: http://aerodromedia.blogspot.com/

    Think simple, think safety, think green, think Burnelli.

    I’m workin’ on it.

  9. 9 szafi April 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Again a bird strike incident:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=6754319

  10. 10 balint01 May 31, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    NTSB concludes ‘Miracle on Hudson’ probe; each engine core ingested goose
    By: Perry Flint
    US National Transportation Safety Board concluded its 15-month investigation into the Jan. 15, 2009, ditching of US Airways Flight 1549, finding that “in addition to the decisions and actions of the flight crewmembers, overwater safety equipment likely saved lives that might otherwise have been lost to drowning.” All 155 passengers and crewmembers survived in the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson,” which occurred after the A320 struck a flock of Canada Geese shortly after departing New York LaGuardia. At least one goose was ingested into each engine core, NTSB determined, causing each to fail.

    The board said that had the A320 not been equipped with forward slide/rafts, “many of the 64 occupants of those rafts would likely have been submerged in the 41-degree Hudson River, potentially causing ‘cold shock’ that could have led to drowning in as little as five min.” Good visibility, calm waters and the proximity of passenger ferries “were other post-accident factors” that contributed to the positive outcome. “Once the birds and the airplane collided and the accident became inevitable, so many things went right,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. “This is a great example of the professionalism of the crewmembers, air traffic controllers and emergency responders who all played a role in preserving the safety of everyone aboard.”

    Among a raft of 35 recommendations from the board are that engine ingestion standards be toughened, that aircraft anti-bird-strike technologies be developed, that pre-flight passenger safety briefings be made more creative and effective, that pilot training for such incidents be improved and made more realistic, that life rafts and floatation seat cushions be made mandatory for all airline-operated aircraft and that the A320 frame 65 vertical beam be redesigned “to lessen the likelihood that it will intrude into the cabin during a ditching or gear-up landing.”

    More details: http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/2010/AAR1003.htm


  1. 1 Landing On The Hudson Through The Eyes Of A Pilot « Airline world Trackback on February 5, 2009 at 8:53 pm
  2. 2 Can You Land On The Hudson River? « Airline world Trackback on February 20, 2009 at 8:07 pm
  3. 3 Air France Flight AF447 Missing « Airline world Trackback on June 2, 2009 at 1:55 am
  4. 4 Thoughts During a Crash Landing | Airline world Trackback on December 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

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