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It has been 10 years since US Airways Flight 1549 became known as the Miracle on the Hudson. After bird strikes knocked out both engines of the Airbus A320, captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles brought the plane back to earth on the only runway they felt they could safely reach—the wide expanse of the river that separates Manhattan from New Jersey. All 150 passengers and five crew made it off the plane; only five suffered serious injuries.
What’s remarkable is how quickly everything happened, especially given the outcome. Two minutes after taking off from LaGuardia airport, the plane ran into the flock of Canada geese. The birds hit both engines, creating the near total loss of thrust. That was at 3:27 pm. The plane was just 2,800 feet up and nowhere near its cruising speed—meaning the pilots had, maximum, a few minutes to find a safe path to the ground.
Seconds - Strike - Sullenberger - Engines - Control
Five seconds after the strike, Sullenberger was trying to restart the engines, then he took control of the plane from Skiles, who had been flying. Five seconds after that, he told Skiles to start running through the emergency checklist for dual engine loss, which was designed to handle problems at cruising altitude, when pilots have far more time to cope. Then he reported the problem to air traffic control, saying he needed to return to LaGuardia, and started to turn south.
Within a minute, the pilots had decided it was too risky to return to the airport. Sullenberger later told investigators it would have been an “irrevocable choice.” They’d have minimal time to get lined up with one of the two runways, and without power, just the one shot to get it right. Plus, getting back would mean flying over densely populated New York City in a plane rapidly...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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