Thursday, January 15, 2009
Plane Crash In The Hudson
Miracle on the Hudson after plane crash
Thursday, January 15, 2009 | 7:18 PM
Gov't official says 'bird strike' cause of crash
By Scott Curkin; Eyewitness News
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The FAA says all passengers are safe after a US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson River.
Individuals who believe they may have family members on board flight 1549 may call US Airways at 1-800-679-8215 within the United States.
The plane is an Airbus 320, US Airways flight 1549 from LaGuardia to Charlotte. There were 150 passengers on board the flight, along with 5 crew members. The FAA is reporting all passengers made it out of the plane allive. There are minor injuries to the passengers, and one flight attendent suffered a broken leg.
The pilot is identified by his wife as Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III. Sullenberger, 58, described himself in an online professional profile as a 29-year employee of US Airways. He started his own consulting business, Safety Reliability Methods Inc., two years ago.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo said they had employees on the plane. Charlotte is a major banking center.
Air Traffic Control reports the plane, after takeoff reached 3,000 feet before heading towards the river. The plane had reached a speed of 178 mph.
"TSA is monitoring the situation involving US Airways flight 1549. At this point, there is no indication that this is a security-related incident. TSA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if appropriate."
The plane went down near 48th Street. The plane took off from LaGuardia at 3:26 p.m.
President Bush released the following statement:
"My Administration is coordinating with State and local officials to respond to this afternoon's plane crash in New York City. We continue to monitor the situation. Laura and I are inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew as well as the dedication and selflessness of the emergency responders and volunteers who rescued passengers from the icy waters of the Hudson. We send our thoughts and prayers to all involved in the accident."
Passenger Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn., said he heard an explosion two or three minutes into the flight, looked out the left side of the Airbus 320 and saw one of the engines on fire.
"The captain said, 'Brace for impact because we're going down,"' Kolodjay said. He said passengers put their heads in their laps and started saying prayers. He said the plane hit the water pretty hard, but he was fine.
"It was intense. It was intense. You've got to give it to the pilot. He made a hell of a landing," Kolodjay said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an experienced pilot, said he had spoken with the pilot and a passenger who claimed to be the last one off the plane.
"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure everybody got out," the mayor said at a news conference.
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Bloomberg said most of the rescued were picked up right away and put on police, Coast Guard and ferry boats. Police divers did have to rescue a few people from underwater, he said.
Gov. David Paterson described the emergency landing as a tragedy averted.
"We had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson," he said.
Government officials say the plane's two engines went down after a flock of birds struck the plane. Witnesses say it appeared the plane made a controlled landing. "It was just unbelievable how this plane landed," said one witness.
The Federal Aviation Administration says there were about 65,000 bird strikes to civil aircraft in the United States from 1990 to 2005, or about one for every 10,000 flights.
"They literally just choke out the engine and it quits," said Joe Mazzone, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot. He said air traffic control towers routinely alert pilots if there are birds in the area.
ABC News learned 30 seconds after the pilot was handed off from the tower to the next controllers he reported two bird strikes and he wanted to return to LaGuardia.
"You never prepare for anything like this," said one survivor.
The plane, which was over New Jersey at the time, was ordered to return to LaGuardia. The pilot saw Teterboro airport outside of the plane, but obviously never made it.
According to authorities, the Airbus pilot was in communication with the tower, reported that he was having trouble controlling the plane, then looped around once, giving the passengers time to prepare for the impact, one senior airport police official said. He then went off the radar and put the plane down on the river.
One witness says he saw flames coming from the number one engine
Ferries rescued passengers, some who were seen standing on the wings of the plane.
US Airways CEO Doug Parker confirmed that 150 passengers, three flight attendants and two pilots were on board the jetliner.
Joe Mazzone, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot, said it is not unusual for birds to strike planes. In fact, he said, when planes get ready to take off, if there are birds in the area, the tower will alert the crew.
"They literally just choke out the engine and it quits," Mazzone said.
An emergency room doctor from St. Vincent's told Eyewitness News about the rescued air passengers.
"It's a bad day to have this happen. much like the DC crash in the 1980's this is a bad combination of cold air, cold water and wind." He said.
Because of the crash all ferry service is suspended between their 39th terminal in NYC and their Weehawken terminal, across the river in NJ.
"There is no information at this time to indicate that this is a security-related incident," Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. "We continue to closely monitor the situation which at present is focused on search and rescue."
The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows, and rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane.
The plane was quickly submerged about 30 minutes after the crash.
Twenty-seven years ago this week, an Air Florida plane bound for Tampa crashed into the Potomac River after hitting a bridge just after takeoff from Washington National Airport. The crash on Jan. 13, 1982, killed 78 people including four people in their cars on the bridge. Five people on the plane survived.
On Dec. 20, a Continental Airlines plane veered off a runway and slid into a snowy field at the Denver airport, injuring 38 people. That was the first major crash of a commercial airliner in the United States since Aug. 27, 2006, when 49 people were killed after a Comair jetliner mistakenly took off from the wrong runway in Lexington, Ky.