Thursday, January 15, 2009
US Airways Plane Down in Hudson River; All On Board Reported Rescued
A US Airways flight has gone down in the Hudson River. All on board -- US Airways said that there were 150 passengers and five crew -- are reported to have been rescued.
The live pictures I was looking at shortly after the crash showed lots of passengers on both wings of the partially submerged Airbus A320. Rescue boats surrounded the plane, which had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport bound for Charlotte.
The temperature in New York was about 25 degrees at the time of the accident around 3.15 p.m. The water temperature in the Hudson River was below 35 degrees.
The sheer number of passengers seen out on those wings as rescue boats surrounded the partially submerged airplane was the first sign that flight attendants did a great job in getting people out, that passengers did a great job following calm evacuation procedures -- and that the pilots managed to put that airplane down in the river with consummate skill.
And the next time I hear that familiar, always ignored, in-flight safety announcement about how seat cushions can be used as flotation devices, I'm paying attention.
[UPDATE: Incidentally, the media are pitching the guess that the plane experienced engine trouble right after takeoff due to a so-called "bird strike," a flock of birds sucked into an engine. But upon examination, this theory seems to be just that, pure speculation. The only reports I see of it, like one currently running on the New York Daily News Web site, say the pilot reported running into a "flock of geese" -- but I don't see any attribution for that information.
A bird strike may well have been the cause, but we'll see once we have some actual evidence.]
Also, as I said, a statement by US Airways, before updates on the crash oddly disappeared from the US Air Web site just before 6 p.m., said that 155 people -- 150 passengers and five crew -- were on the plane. Other media reports have slightly different numbers, from 151 to 153, and they may well be right.
[UPDATE 2 -- Ah, here's some better information -- attributed, if anonymously -- from the Wall Street Journal online about the possible bird-strike cause:
"A person familiar with conversations between the flight crew and air traffic controllers said that the crew reported flying through a flock of geese, sucking birds into both engines. The engines continued to run, but at that point they were chewing themselves up and not making enough power to continue flight."]