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May 4, 2010

Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed

Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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Passengers stand on the jet’s wings or climb into life rafts as the plane begins to sink

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its investigation into the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 into New York’s Hudson River. The fifteen-month probe began after the Airbus A320 performed a water landing when bird strikes damaged both engines in a move dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” by the media. Nobody was killed.

The NTSB’s final report, adopted after a board meeting today, concluded that a combination of safety equipment better than the mandatory minimums and good reactions by the crew were the main reasons the 150 passengers and five crew survived. The board stated that the aircraft’s equipment met the standards required for “extended overwater operations”, equipment that was not needed for the January 2009 flight.

The aircraft was equiped with escape slides that doubled as water rafts at the front and aft emergency exits, but the aft ones were rendered unavailable. Airbus assumed when designing the aircraft that only one engine would be inoperative during an emergency ditching, and current emergency checklists assume plenty of prior warning for dual-engine failure since the aircraft would be at a high altitude. The A320 was at just 2,700 feet when the incident occurred, having just taken off when it collided with a flock of Canada geese, almost completely removing the engines’ ability to generate thrust.

The final report has blamed a number of factors for extensive fuselage damage caused in the impact, which cracked a rear bulkhead and caused the aircraft to flood, as well as taking the rear slides out of action. The board said standards aircraft should meet in ditchings – set by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) – were inadequate, training in industry was not sufficient for ditchings and the high level of tasks the crew had to focus on made it difficult for the pilot to maintain his airspeed. The pilot’s decision to ditch was credited as being the best possible solution to the emergency.

The NTSB noted that while the rear rafts failed, 64 people climbed into the forward rafts, and said many of these people would have been immersed in the frigid river. The board claimed that this could induce “cold shock”, which can lead to drowning within minutes.

The airliner is removed from the icy waters

The report found that the good visibility, calm water, nearby ferries which provided rescues within twenty minutes and good cockpit resource management, allowing the crew to maintain control, were further factors that contributed to the survival of those on board. However, it also found that “more creative and effective methods of conveying safety information to passengers” are required after learning that most passengers had not paid attention to the in-flight safety announcement. It also noted that many passengers had difficulty putting on the life vests supplied under the seats.

The report further stated that the accident was hard to predict due to the fact that bird strikes tend to occur much lower, usually below 500 feet. It considered the possibilities of fitting engine screens or redesigning engines to mitigate bird strike risk, but these proposals were rejected after consideration since they were deemed unfeasable.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman described the circumstances as “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.” She further discussed the safety recommendations the report will contain when it is released. “I believe the safety recommendations that have come out of this investigation have an extraordinary origin – a very serious accident in which everyone survived. Even in an accident where everyone survives, there are lessons learned and areas that could use improvement. Our report today takes these lessons learned so that, if our recommendations are implemented, every passenger and crewmember may have the opportunity to benefit from the advances in safety.” A total of 35 recommendations have been made seeking improved checklists for emergencies, better certification standards for aircraft and their engines, advances in crew training, better safety equipment and improved safety briefings to passengers.

One result of these findings is that the board will likely ask the FAA to require emergency equipment for water landings on all commercial aircraft. The FAA has until now held that such a move would place a disproportionately high cost on airlines.



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February 6, 2009

Plane makes emergency water landing in Darwin Harbour

Plane makes emergency water landing in Darwin Harbour

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Friday, February 6, 2009

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A Piper Chieftain, similar to the one involved in the accident

An Australian twin-engined Piper Chieftain carrying five passengers safely landed in the waters of Darwin‘s harbour today. The pilot of the aeroplane, Steve Bolle, experienced some engine trouble shortly after departing from Darwin International Airport. Darwin is the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, situated on the Timor Sea.

It is not yet known what caused the incident.

The aircraft’s flight plan took it over water, giving the pilot few opportunities to land the plane on ground. Bolle decided to land in the water, as opposed to the beach, as the firmness of the ground on the latter was not known.

The plane ditched in shallow water in the harbour, and Bolle and his five passengers were able to safely wade to shore.

The Piper Chieftain was en route to Maningrida, located half a thousand kilometres east of Darwin, according to the aeroplane’s owner, the Australian information technology company CSG.

“We would like to congratulate the pilot following all emergency landing and evacuation procedures and his very professional handling of the situation,” CSG said in a statement.

A few weeks ago, the pilot of an Airbus passenger jet departing from La Guardia in New York City also successfully ditched in water after bird strikes disabled both of the aeroplane’s engines.



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  • “US Airways jet makes emergency landing in river by New York City” — Wikinews, January 15, 2009

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February 5, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 5, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 5, 2009 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 5, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, February 5, 2009.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Flight 1549 transcript released

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has released a transcript of the conversations that went on between Flight 1549 and the control tower at La Guardia before the airplane crash landed in the Hudson river. All 155 passengers and crew survived and were rescued by a flotilla of boats.

The transcripts reveal that the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, realised that both engines had been disabled by bird strike and that the airplane was about to crash. Controllers attempted to clear runways at nearby airports but Sullenberger had to put down immediately, telling them “we’re going to be in the Hudson”.

The transcript, in PDF format, can be read here.

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UK house prices rise despite recession

The average price of a house in the United Kingdom rose by 1.9% in January, according to a survey by the mortgage lender Halifax. This takes the average price to £163,966 – a rise, according to The Daily Mail, of £100 a day, although their headline and story do not agree on the figure.

Year-on-year figures show that prices fell 17.2% since January 2007, and 5.1% over the last three months. A similar survey by the Nationwide Building Society said that prices fell 1.3% in January. The Daily Mail says 1.2 million households now have “negative equity”, where the mortgage on their property is more than the property is actually worth.

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Bank of England cuts interest rate; European Central Bank waits

The Bank of England, the UK’s central bank, has cut interest rates to their lowest level since the bank was created in 1694. The new base rate is to be 1%, down half a percentage point.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank, which governs rates in the Eurozone, has left its rates unchanged at 2%, but has hinted that a half point cut is possible in the next review in a month’s time.

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U.S. new unemployment at 26-year high

The U.S. Department of Labor says that initial jobless claims in the country have gone up 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 626,000. The figures for the last week of January are the highest since 1982. The four-week average, which removes anomolies like strikes and holidays, were up 39,000 to 582,250. America now has 4.788 million people unemployed and claiming welfare. Bloomberg believes that 7.5% of the working population will be unemployed in figures to be released tomorrow.

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January 18, 2009

US Airways jet recovered from Hudson River

US Airways jet recovered from Hudson River

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

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The occupants stand on the wings after the crash

Salvage crews have dragged US Airways Flight 1549 out of the Hudson River in New York City. The Airbus A320 performed a successful emergency landing on water on Thursday after losing power shortly after departing La Guardia Airport.

The aircraft was tied up at Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City for the last two days before the overnight lift. Efforts were complicated by strong currents and freezing temperatures, but the aircraft was successfully retrieved by a large crane from its Manhattan dock.

The lift was completed slowly to allow the flooded cabin to drain as it was raised. The waterlogged cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been removed and sent to Washington.

When the plane was lifted, extensive damage to its underside was revealed. The aircraft’s right engine remains attached and was retrieved with the aircraft, but the left separated. Sonar has located what is thought to be the engine on the riverbed.

The jet was landed on the Hudson by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who is credited with saving the 155 passengers and crew on board. He testified that it was almost certainly birds ingested on both engines that brought down the jet.



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January 15, 2009

US Airways jet makes emergency landing in river by New York City

US Airways jet makes emergency landing in river by New York City

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Passengers exit the plane onto the wings.
Image: Greg L.

Rescue ships surround the sinking aircraft.
Image: Izno.

A US Airways Airbus A320, Flight 1549, has made an emergency landing in the Hudson River after a failed attempt to take off near Manhattan. There were 148 passengers and five crew on the flight to Charlotte from LaGuardia Airport. The plane took off at 3:26 PM EST (UTC-5) and went down minutes later. All aboard survived the landing.

The United States Coast Guard has reported that they have sent units to the scene of the incident, and that a nearby ferry was giving life jackets to survivors. According to witnesses, the plane landed in the river, making a large splash in the water, at a somewhat gradual angle.

“This looked like a controlled descent,” said Bob Read, who witnessed the incident from his office.

A source told The Wall Street Journal that the plane initially was maneuvering to make an emergency landing at nearby Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, but lost too much altitude and had to ditch in the river.

Unconfirmed reports cite the pilot as saying that the plane encountered a flock of geese and that some of them went into both of the jet’s engines, leading to a loss of powered flight. Passengers told the press that they heard a loud bang shortly after takeoff.

A Federal Aviation Administration official said that the plane was airborne for only three minutes. For these rare water landings, pilots are trained to bring the plane down as they would on land, but with the landing gear still retracted.



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