Saturday, May 1, 2010

US Airways, Flight 1549

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was successfully ditched in the Hudson River, just six minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. The aircraft was disabled by a flock of Canada Geese during its initial climb out.
The bird strike, which occurred about three minutes into the flight, resulted in an immediate and nearly complete loss of thrust from both engines. When the aircrew of the Airbus 320 determined that they would be unable to reliably reach any airfield from the site of the bird strike, they turned the aircraft towards the Hudson river, finally ditching the airliner about three minutes after losing power. If the aircraft wasn't at such a high altitude at the time of the strike, chance of survival would have been minimal. All 155 passengers and crew safely evacuated the airliner, which was kept buoyant though partially submerged and slowly sinking, and were quickly rescued by nearby boats. The pilot Captain Sullenberger was calm, his years of flight training and experience flying gliders kicked in, allowing him to safely glide the A320 into the river.
The entire crew of Flight 1549 was 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." It has been described as "the most successful ditching in aviation history.