Yesterday afternoon, just as I was walking to pick up my kids from school in Northern Manhattan, if I had looked up just about the time I was entering the building, I would have seen an A320 jet flying US Airways colors. I would have seen it approaching the George Washington Bridge a little bit too low, perhaps with some smoke …
He didn't have the altitude
To "glide" back to the airport. Most of those planes have the glide path of a brick. Therefore, the river. Good choice; job well done.
Penguins do fly - underwater.
GPS phone thing...
Why are people making it more complicated. GPS receivers in phones are common, have one in mine.
Could have a simple program that emails or sends a text message every n seconds/minutes to numbers off a pre-defined list that includes the last GPS co-ordinates. Simple...
Ditching button not used?
It looks like the ditching button had NOT been pressed, which makes the fact that the aircraft floated for so long an even greater feat.
As someone already pointed out: A miracle would have saved those geese. One moment they are straight in the flight path, and *woosh* the next moment all the geese find themselves miraculously on dry land. *That* would be a miracle.
The flying spaghetti monster has better things to do than bother with well-designed machines operated by well-trained professionals.
That said, I am more interested in the Airbus vs Boeing angle of the whole thing. Boeing 707 has been mentioned -- but was that fly-by-wire? What powered its systems?
What aircraft need is anti-bird lasers.
"Back in the mid eighties I went for an interview with British Aerospace in Hatfield, who at the time were just starting to roll out the BAe146 (In fact there were two of the first production planes off the line being guarded by the RAF after acceptance tests for Queenie's flight). I was given a great tour, and one of the items I saw was a prototype nose & cockpit, which had a big dent in it. I asked about it and I was told that as part of testing they had a big canon that shot chickens at 100+ miles an hour, which they used to assess the in-flight damage a bird hit would cause. Originally they had used live birds, but at some point they decided that this was cruel and started to use shop-bought ones as the mess was easier to clean up. I was told that the dent was made by a member of staff loading the canon with a frozen one instead of a fresh one."
Urban myth I'm afraid, back in the late eighties I was an apprentice at BAe Hatfield and as part of a 6 week placement to Shop Engineering Dept (engineering troubleshooting) I helped out with chicken gun firings on two occasions. The chickens were purchased from a local farm which had been supplying the factory since the DeHavilland days. Chickens were purchased in pairs on the day of a firing and were live until about 2 hours before the firing, the bodies were still warm when loaded into the cannon.
For those who don't understand the damage a bird strike can cause, one of the firings I helped with involved firing a 4lb bird at 250mph at the outer cockpit window of a BAe 146. The bird was fired parallel to the fuselage centreline, hitting the winow at about 60 degrees from the perpendicular. The bird slid back along the window and peeled open about a 25cm length of the 4mm thick duralamin skin where it was riveted to the window frame with rivets every 15mm.
On the subject of meshes over engines, Flight Test at Hatfield had asked for 5 years for safety cages for round the engines for when ground runs were being carried out. The cages were delivered 2 weeks after one of the flight test inspectors got sucked into an engine an killed.
'e didn't so much fly as plummet.
Anon Coward above is partially correct in that they did not have the altitude to play with in this case, however the idea that airliners glide "like a brick" is incorrect. In fact most jets, including airliners have excellent glide ratios for non-soaring aircraft, typically much better than most light airplanes. The A320 has a glide ratio of about 17:1. In other words at best glide speed it moves forward 17 feet for every foot it descends. That's more than double the glide ratio of a Cessna 172 at 8:1. The big difference here is that the A320 is moving a LOT faster to achieve that glide, and so it needs more room to land.
Teterboro may have been close enough to glide to, but it is a relatively small airport (read shorter runways) closely surrounded by dense residential areas, with some very tall transmission towers just to the south of the airport. What's more, its runways are not aligned with the direct flight path to the airport, so they would have had to maneuver, thus using up more altitude. Had they chosen KTEB they would have had to maneuver to align with the runway, visually locate and dodge those towers and then put the plane down right on the numbers to make it work. In the Hudson they had all of the space (in all three dimensions) that they might choose, as well as rescue services close enough to be useful. While it carried its own risks, landing in the river was a much safer choice than trying for Teterboro.
Seat cushions not lifejackets
With regards to the comments about passengers not putting on their lifejackets - my experience from the few times that I've flown in the USA is that lifejackets are not actually provided - instead you are expected to grab your seat cushion (which has convenient handles underneath) and hope that it gives you enough buoyancy to float. There were a few of these bobbing around in some of the photos of the accident.
"What happened to interesting, informed and rational analysis?"
I think the author really wanted to tell us he lives nearby.
And didn't have anything else to say except, "Wow!" and "Thanks!"
@Glider pilots - Touch & Go
I haven't seen it for myself, but I understand that some glider pilots on the west coast beaches of Auckland, NZ sometimes will peel off the ridge lift, perform a touch-and-go on the beach, and return to the ridge lift again. I'm told it scares the heck out of the hang-glider pilots!
Re: 'e didn't so much fly as plummet.
I don't think length of runway was part of the decision. Imagine an airliner taking off from NY then immediately heading off flight path towards a residential area, enter F14s, one ex-jet. and 155 slightly dead passengers.
Are F14s or whatever still hovering about over New York itching for a bit of target practice?
why not use retractable engine grills
So they protect from bird strike on take off and landing (also lower speed) and retract when flying at altitude where birds are less likely to be a problem.
jingoism and plane ignorance (pun intended)
folks, there seems to be a lot of confusion and just plain (plane) ignorance here. i can't do anything about the jingoism but here are a few facts ( don't take my word for it, check 'em out) to chew on:
there is basically no difference between Boeing and Airbus aircraft as far as safety features. any commercial aircraft operating in US airspace must pass the same certification process - some find it easy, others, the concord for example don't, but all must eventually pass. exceptions can be made, again for the concord, the remaining fuel requirement was reduced so it could meet the requirements. at that, many concord flights from france and the uk to jfk were forced to land for refueling at bangor - played hell with their on-time performance. i was once riding the jump seat in an AF concord, on approach to 17L at JFK - i leaned forward and asked the captain, " what's out alternate", he replied, with a smile, 17R.
in fact, there are very few differences between these two manufactures at all - both build good, safe, reliable aircraft. each of them tries to add their own particularly twist, some of which work out and some don't, but the differences are mainly marketing hype. fuel efficiency and noise are the current hot buttons!
the cabin interior, the power plant (engines) and the avionics are specified by the air carrier, and purchased separately - they are not specified or provided by the aircraft manufacturer.
carriers buy aircraft for a variety of reasons, mostly concerning costs. if you have an all Boeing fleet, why buy an Airbus aircraft and create a maintenance and service nightmare for yourself.
Airbus has aggressively priced their product and has had considerable success selling them. given that there isn't really much difference between them, isn't that the way it should be? what idiot would tell their stockholders they were going to spend that amount of money just because it was manufactured by a US or European manufacturer - the answer is none - i've been there when these decisions were made and i can tell you it's all about price.
ram air turbines have been standard equipment on all jet aircraft since the 1960s, i recall having one on the f-105, a lot of years ago. more importantly, all commercial jet aircraft have an auxiliary power units (APU) which provides electrical power to start the engines, and can be used in flight to provide electrical power for the hydraulic systems. modern turbine aircraft require the engines to be spun at a very high speed in order to achieve the compression necessary to sustain power - batteries just wouldn't do it. interesting to hear if the APU did cycle on and if not, why not? don't know how long it might take to spool the thing up, perhaps 10-15 seconds. BTW, almost all modern jet aircraft are "fly by wire", and that has nothing to do with anything here.
as to who made these particularly engines, an interesting data point but not really a factor. in these circumstances, all engines will respond the same - none of them will survive bits of titanium impeller blades whirling around loose inside the engine. as for one of the engines separating, that's a feature of the airframe, again mandated by the certification process. one really doesn't want an engine spewing metal parts at high speed in close proximity to a tube full of live people - get rid of the thing when it becomes a danger. there is some idea that it separated on landing but it seems to me that if one had gone on landing the asymmetrical drag would have been so great as to have skewed the path considerably, given that at that point there was very little aerodynamic control of the aircraft so no way to compensate. i don't recall seeing any signs of anything but a more or less, straight path down the river.
as for the benefits of being a glider pilot, "give us a break" !
the sum of it all is:
the aircraft performed as was expected and the flight crew, including the cabin attendants performed as was expected and they all lived. the crew deserves the praise here, any modern commercial turbine aircraft would have performed in the same fashion. too bad the crew wouldn't receive anything other that a pat on the back - i told you air carriers only think of the price (-:
No, the F-14s are all gone, we need the cash for the new toys.
There haven't been fighter aircraft flying CAP over New York for years, and even if there were, everyone at this party was playing from the same sheet of music. It's not like the airliner suddenly stopped talking to everyone and went off toward a building. Besides, if you were going to choose a target for a terrorist strike in the NY metro area there are a lot better ones than Teterboro, NJ. Trust me, I've been there.
The longest runway at Teterboro is Runway 01, the one they would have been closest to, however by the time they manoeuvered to align with it they would be making a nearly 90° turn to final, which means they would need to start a greater distance from the runway threshold. Assuming they didn't get involved with the groups of 445' and 500' towers out in that area, they would have 7,000' of runway available to land. The figures I find for the A320 show a MINIMUM landing distance of ~5,000'. I assume that figure is based on Maximum Landing weight. With a full passenger load and fuel they were probably closer to their maximum takeoff weight, which is about 20,000 pounds heavier. The airplane can be landed overweight, but the landing distance is increased. Any idea how much for the extra 20,000 lbs? Without reverse thrust? Me either. I'll wager the flight crew couldn't pull that number out of their hat either, but they knew that it was eating away at their landing margin. You can have a look here: http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a297/AirKevin/AA1167/ff600269.jpg for a photo of the airport. Runway 01 is the long one with the biggest space between the runway and buildings (maybe 1,000').
Given the mere seconds they had to decide, they undoubtedly were thinking that it would be hard enough to get the airplane down in one piece without the added problem of having to thread a needle to do it. I agree with their choice.
Oh, and the F-14 was retired from the US inventory on 22 September 2006, so none of those to worry about :)
Back in the late 80's i was building space shuttles.
One young wet behind the ears apprentice asked why i was gaffa taping speakers to the nose cone, as he said "they can't hear music in space dude, huh, huh".
i had got a B&Q sonic bird scarer gaffa taped to the nose cone.
I pointed out that a bird hitting the windscreen of the shuttle would smash it and then the space aliens would get in and eat our crew when they got to space, so my bird scarer would keep the birds at bay on take offs and landings.
The young know-it-all pipes up "why don't they put it on planes?".
I informed him that almost every year they suggest it at the share holders meetings of airlines, and every year it gets voted down because it would cost the airline $5,000 per plane, and shareholders don't want costs, even if it means a few planes go down.
As a parting shot, he says "what if that speaker falls off the nose cone and hits the wing, will it not damage the wing?"
"1. i retire next year buddy, you'll have to hide that from the investigating committee if it ever happens.
2. Have you ever seen the inside of my bird cannon?...huhuh!"
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