back to article 'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    No, it is not a miracle

    This is not the first incident where an Airbus 3[1,2]X glides to safety after a total engine failure.

    Everyone keeps jumping up and down about the miracle pilot while totally forgetting the supreme airframe and the fact that while the plane is fly-by wire it still had enough power from the emergency-airram generator on both occasions all the way till landing. That is something unknown for a passenger jet. In fact similar incidents with Boeing and Tupolev have always ended in total disasters.

    No, it was not a miracle. It was a supreme piece of work by the Airbus designers. Applause.

    And a big Boo to the beeb and the rest of the media for doing everything they could to avoid mentioning this or drawing any parallels with the previous incident (the total fuel loss by an Air Canada flight over the Atlantic followed by a glide all the way from cruising height to a safe landing on the Azores).

  2. Peyton

    "and a little luck"

    Yes - it's that little piece of uncertainty that makes people want to call it miraculous. But regardless of religious outlooks, or absence thereof, "miracle" can be any outstanding accomplishment - no pesky interference from deities required. That's certainly a very high bar for "outstanding" if a crash landing with 100% survival doesn't cut it.

    Also, if you're going to harp on this 'miracle-free' theme, maybe it's best to avoid statements like "Thank heavens..." ?

    I guess the point of this article was to make sure the talents of those involved weren't overlooked? I don't think that's needed - in all the coverage I saw, everyone was thanking the pilot, the rescuers... actually everyone but god. Strange article...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    It's the perfect case...

    ...for fois gras.

  4. Doug Glass

    Maybe, Just Maybe ...

    ... the miracle was all those good things you named coming together with the right person at the right time. Safe landings are of course not a miracle ... to modern man. But to say because there was technology and training involved there was no miracle is to deny what put all those wonderful things into play.

    You're right, the use of good engineering, good technology and good training may not be a miracle, but maybe their very essence is. Maybe our growing understanding of them and their proper usage is.

    But, I guess for you ultra techy types whose very life and livelihood are vested in the tech industry have to take the stance you, the author took. If you don't push the tech and toys, and be successful at it, you're out of a job. My generation calls that selling oneself to the devil.

  5. LaeMi Qian


    I have been feeling since the news broke that all this talk of 'miracles' was a bit belittling to the engineering, pilot skill, and passenger sense that is really what stopped this accident being a disaster.

    It's bad enough when the human race goes around blaming 'evil' for our own stupidity and short-sightedness without us then dragging down our high points to the status of a mere 'random passing miracle'. Not a miracle, humanity at its best and should be waved about as an example of what we are actually capable of an can aspire to: Real people doing real stuff and doing it well.

  6. Neil Alexander
    Thumb Down

    Jet engine failure

    Why, if sucking birds into jet engines is such a problem, has nobody ever thought to just put some kind of reinforced net over the engine intake?

    Surely that is not rocket science.

  7. Andus McCoatover

    I read somewhere..

    ..there's a "Ditch" button in the cockpit on Airbus aircraft that shuts all the air vents off in the event of a water landing. Lets it float for longer.

    Boeing doesn't have that, I understand.

    Anyone confirm? Thanks. Incidentally, when I next fly, I'll take *much* more notice of the safety instructions. Bloody worked!

    (BTW, Superb airmanship. Bloke deserves a gong as big as a dustbin lid)

  8. Mark Dowling

    "American Airlines"?

    "I am certainly glad that pilot Chesley Sullenberger was at the helm. Like so many pilots at American Airlines, he's an ex-fighter pilot"

    I thought we were discussing US Airlines?

  9. Eric Sosman
    Thumb Down

    Loony libel laughable?

    That "Scotch on the breath of the pilot" remark is a fine example of gratuitous smart-assery, a perfect demonstration of the difference between a wit and a halfwit.

  10. Carolyn MacLeod

    First comment

    The flight which landed in the Azores was and Air Transat flight, not Air Canada. The Gimli Glider incident, a Boeing 767 operated by Air Canada, landed safely after running out of fuel and gliding in 1983.

    As to you claim that similar incidents with Boeing and Tupolev aircraft ended badly, if you mean gliding to a safe landing, the Air Canada 767 landing in Gimli makes that wrong, and if you mean landing safely in water, the only other water ditching with no fatalities (I believe) was of a Tupolev 124 in the Neva river in 1963

  11. Jeff

    @alexander 'Just glue a net to the front, problem solved'

    I must point out the slightly obvious: any net that can stop at least one 5Kg lump of meat travelling at a relative velocity of up to 500 mph will have to be very, very sturdy. to such an extent that it will need to be very heavy, and will certainly restrict the airflow into the engine.

    Moreover.. once the bird gets splashed across this net/mesh/grill, the airflow may well be cut off so much that the engine flames out anyway...

  12. Greg Regis
    Thumb Up

    Where's the paranoid nutjob faction?

    ....I haven't seen any theories about the possibility that these were trained geese sent to New York by Al-Qaeda. Could it truly be the end of the Bush-Cheney "scaremonger, then scatterbomb" era? I wonder....

    ps - Kudos to the pilot. Awesome job by him and the crew. That's who the thumbs up is for.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Neil Alexander

    Maybe the hundreds of aviation engineers and designers didn't do that because its a fucking stupid idea, maybe because the hole in front of a turbojet isn't in fact just a hole but a carefully designed piece of sculpture to give the right airflow characteristics at all airspeeds.

    Go back to your lego set you twat.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Eat the damned geese

    Never mind feeding/not feeding the geese, everyone should do their bit for Air Safety by eating a goose this weekend.

  15. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Not an accident

    They're filming the next seson of "Lost".

  16. Joe K

    I think the real question is

    Has anyone tried this in Microsoft Flight Simulator yet?

  17. Anonymous John


    all the good engineering, technology and training would have mean little without a suitably positioned river.

    There was a considerable amount of luck there.

    "the one passenger who turned on his cell phone so his GPS could be used to locate his body"

    Neat trick that.

  18. Vulch


    Birds are relatively chewy and small ones can go through an engine, though they emerge finely minced and well done. Something tough enough to stop a goose, or even to dice it fine enough so it appears to be a flock of much smaller birds, is going to be heavy and not at all chewy if part of it breaks off and is sucked in. The extra risks caused by adding a grille outweigh those prevented by it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Team Effort

    I hope the pilot has the chance to speak publicly - All the media attention is focused on him but there is a co pilot and I am optimistic both of them were working in unison. The pilot could not do it by himself.

  20. Ian Michael Gumby
    Thumb Down

    Does the author ever proof read his article?

    "I am certainly glad that pilot Chesley Sullenberger was at the helm. Like so many pilots at American Airlines, he's an ex-fighter pilot. He's also a consultant in aircraft and airline safety and the former safety chairman for the Airline Pilots Association. And, perhaps most importantly, he's a glider pilot in his private life."

    Uhm the ditched plane was a US Airways plane. I don't know where the American Airlines statement came from. (BTW the majority of the pilots are ex-military)

    As to it being a miracle, yeah I guess unless you're the Pope and you want to consider this guy for sainthood, you wouldn't call it a miracle. Even with all of the training, there are a lot of things that could continue to go wrong. You may call it luck, but what's the difference between being lucky or having a guardian angel or a miracle?

    But hey! In my mind, anytime you can walk away from a crash, its a good thing. A miracle? Maybe not to you, but if you asked those on the plane, I'd think they'd agree with the term.

  21. Brad Darwin
    Black Helicopters

    Global Warming Made This Worse

    If it weren't for global warming, the pilot could have landed on the FROZEN Hudson river and no one would have gotten wet. Also, the birds would have been living further south to stay warm.

  22. Marina

    This was just what we ought to expect in such a situation

    Yup; about time somebody give credit to the engineers who designed the plane, and the pilots who flew it.

    Not to say generations of aviation engineers, pilots, and others concerned with aviation safety who have created requirements and training standards which not only made this potential disaster into a mere media event.

  23. R Callan

    @Neil Alexander

    I think that putting a mesh over the intakes would act to macerate the birds in the same way as the turbine blades do now. Its that semi-liquid material that causes the engine to flame out, and tends to clog up the interior of the engine.

    Additionally, I remember reading once that when Mk V Spitfires were having problems with FW 190's one of the "solutions" was to remove the stone guards from the air intakes. This gave a 10% increase in the power output of the Merlins. Could you imagine if aircraft engines suddenly became 10% less powerful. Most aircraft would lose their airworthiness certificates, and become 10% less economical anyway.

    OT why does FF say Merlins is incorrectly spelled. Merlins are small falcons.

  24. Daniel B.

    Flown in an A320 before

    ... and now I am grateful for that. Especially since two of those flights involved flying over water.

    Hats off to the A320 designers, and to the superb pilot who managed to water land the bird!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Grilles across engine intakes?

    @Neil Alexander

    Such devices exist and are sometimes used during ground runs to protect the engines from foreign object damage. However, in the air, the airflow disruption would be considerable and so the engine would be more likely to surge (effectively a blade stall) and it would suffer from poorer fuel economy. The forces involved with a 20 pound goose hitting such a grille at 200 knots plus would probably end up with the engine ingesting chipped goose and broken grille, so you're even worse off than before. Oh, and there's a weight penalty too.

    Engines often have a spiral pattern on the fan spinner that is believed to discourage birds from flying towards it, but that is really designed for use when taxying and during the early stages of takeoff.

  26. Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate

    Air Transit was glider over pacific. Air Canada over Gimli

    A previous comment about Air Canada was slightly wrong. It was Air Transit which had no fuel over the Pacific and landed at the Azores. Air Canada had a dead stick over Gilmi

    Please read the safety manuals at the authoritative wikipedia.

    Can life insurance be bought over the phone or internet? Can life insurance be bought in a couple of minutes? Could the passengers bought life insurance while the plane was having problems?

    God made me an atheist.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Jet engine failure

    A "mesh" traveling through the air at even 100 - 200 mph faster than the object it strikes is just going to "dice" the object, the end result will (I'm sure) be the same. If enough of the "object" passes though the engine at the same moment it is likely to bend or break the nice shiny aircraft grade metal that is spinning at a frightening rate of knots

    I'm glad the first comment gave the engineers the recognition they deserve, it seems to have been a little lacking in the mainstream media.

  28. Adam
    Dead Vulture

    If I wanted trashy mass-media I wouldn't read the Register

    Come on. What happened to interesting, informed and rational analysis?

    Yeah, of course it's good news everyone survived. But I expected some genuine insight from el Reg. Not just inane "oh, isn't everyone involved so great" tat.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst I applaud the crew for their feat

    I take issue with the media using such terms as "miracle" or "hero". Skillful and level-headed, yes. Miraculous and heroic, no.

    The pilots have a very strong incentive to put the plane down safely - they don't want to die. We often hear of how a pilot struggled to avoid a school before hitting a field. Which would you rather land on - a bunch of buildings or a ploughed field (or come to that, a river)? It isn't heroic, it's common sense.

    Let's have a bit of perspective. A "hero" is somebody like Sgt. Norman Jackson VC who, though wounded, climbed out onto the wing of a burning Lancaster at 20,000ft, to try to put out an engine fire with a hand-held fire extinguisher. Now that's what I call heroic.

  30. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Spare a thought for the geese!

    Just when you think you're safe 'cos u made it past Thanksgiving alive....

  31. Adair Silver badge

    What's a miracle?

    Just for the record: theologically* speaking a 'miracle' is a 'sign' of God's nature and involvement in human affairs. NO 'supernatural' SFX are required, though neither are they ruled out. One persons's miracle can be someone else's mundane/banal bit of 'nothing to see here'---it's all a matter of perception or, if you prefer, willingness to see beyond the mundane to the underlying reality.

    All credit to the plane's designers. the pilot and crew. The there are all the other factors that add to everyone in this instance getting out alive to wake up to a new day and the rest of their lives. Bit of a bummer if you get run over by a bus the next day though!

    * I'll dare to speak for Christian theology.

  32. Kenny Swan
    Thumb Down


    @Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate, you not only quoted Wiki, but you also failed to read the articles you provided to correct someone else. The incident took place over the Atlantic, not the Pacific. Unless the Azores have been relocated or there's been a total ban on eastbound flying forcing aircraft to fly West and go the long way.

  33. Patrick R
    Thumb Down

    Plains are no speed boats.

    Anyone that has seen speed boats get a few bumps and desintegrate can imagine all that could have gone wrong with a plane that's not designed to glide on water. Training might have helped, but ask the pilot if he wasn't lucky. Stupid article, I must say. What's your point ?

    Go tell the Concorde pilot, the one that crashed in a hotel in 2000, two minutes after take off, go tell him he simply was'nt trained enough. Oh sorry, he's dead.

  34. Neil

    @Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate

    The Azores are in the Atlantic, not the Pacific. According to the very wikipedia article you cite, "Air Transat Flight 236 was an Air Transat route between Toronto, Canada and Lisbon, Portugal".

    But I do agree with the sentiment that the pilot and co-pilot did an outstanding job in bringing it down safely and the ferry boats also acted very quickly to recover people from the very cold waters. The BBC said it isn't something pilots train for in simulators so there must have been some very quick thinking.

  35. Martin Lyne

    RE: Doug Glass

    "My generation calls that selling oneself to the devil"

    Yeah, next time we'll tell everyone to use substandard jets and poorly trained crew, and then when some fictitious overlord doesn't step in to save them.. we''l it must just have been "their time"

    Good job pilot and crew, good job Airbus.

    Bad job whoever created Geese. Not to mention Canadian Geese blighting Blighty's lakes and canals.

  36. Ross Fleming

    @Joe K

    "Has anyone tried this in Microsoft Flight Simulator yet?"

    Ah, you weren't watching the BBC news on repeat yesterday then. Pretty much 99% of the coverage they had was of some nerd in his bedroom demonstrating it on MS FS

    Watch to the end and you see them demonstrating how impossible it is and shows an Ethipian plane failing. However, landing wing first is never going to be the best technique. The pilot did a brilliant job in this case, regardless of what the article writer might think about technology.

    Did anyone spot in the picture that there wasn't a speck of luminous orange/yellow in sight? Good to see that in real incidents, the "in the event of a landing on water" instructions are ignored by passengers much like during take-off prep.

  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    How does that work then?

    "the one passenger who turned on his cell phone so his GPS could be used to locate his body"

    So this is a GPS+cell phone combo (A hefty affair. Can you take these on planes these days without risiking an impromptu proctological examination by TSA gorillas?)

    So the GPS module determines current position. But then it has to do something with that data, like send it out over the cellular network. More likely the GPS would just have told the dead passenger where he currently was, which would be pointless of course.

    On the other hand, this is probably not "real GPS". Instead the user hoped that cell phone position tracking using base station triangulation would enable friends and family to locate his cell-phone equipped mortal remains - as long as they were not underwater. It is unfortunate that this is apparently also called "Cell Phone GPS" by marketdroids.

  38. Jeff Bulmer

    Trans-oceanic glide?

    By Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate Posted Saturday 17th January 2009 00:28 GMT


    A previous comment about Air Canada was slightly wrong. It was Air Transit which had no fuel over the Pacific and landed at the Azores.

    Out of fuel over Pacific and landed in the Azores eh? That's one amazing glide considering that the Azores are in the Atlantic......

  39. Eponymous Howard

    Pacific to Azores

    ***It was Air Transit which had no fuel over the Pacific and landed at the Azores.***

    Bloody hell, that is an impressive glide!

  40. paulc

    what I find shocking...

    was all the passengers standing on the wing without lifejackets on... idiots... if that plane had gone under quickly, they'd have drowned... anyone slipping while clambering onto a ferry off the wing would have been in serious trouble...

    anyway... it'll all come out at the accident investigation...

  41. Martin

    @Ground Rush - was that necessary?

    Obviously Neil Alexander's question was a little naive, and several people (including you) have pointed out that stopping geese is not quite as simple as just putting a net over the engine.

    But only you were bloody offensive with it. Congratulations, and if (when?) you lose your job in the recession (possibly for being rude and snotty to someone who makes what they think is a reasonable suggestion), I suggest you don't retrain as a teacher.

  42. dave appleby

    @Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate


    Check the Wiki article you cited.

    Last time I looked the Azores were in the Atlantic.


  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Miracle vs Luck

    @ian michael gumby "You may call it luck, but what's the difference between being lucky or having a guardian angel or a miracle?"

    One is what happened: the right set of circumstances at the right time. The other is believing that fairies did it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Bird Damage

    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...

    If there is a miracle in this story it is the miracle of education, of learning from our mistakes, of bloody hard work that nobody wants to pay for until it is too late, and of people like the Airbus crew who put others safety before their own.

    But in the real world, I suspect that bitch who wouldn't leave without her luggage will probably sue the airline.

    Did any of you know that there is a "Roll Of Honour" with 500+ names in it at Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum, listing every test pilot and aircrew who died over the last 100 years to make aircraft safer for the rest of us? Apart from £1000 donated by BAe Systems, not a single corporation or government body have contributed to this memorial.

    The title page of the book has the following quote form Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

    "and everywhere the blue sky belongs to them and is their appointed rest and their native country".

    As to luck, I would say that even a passing glance at the pilot & co-pilot's logbooks would show that "The harder I work the luckier I get" still applies.

  45. Nomen Publicus

    Something to think about

    It's amazing how well trained people turn out to be lucky...

  46. b

    omg they are "heroes", already?!

    what's the matter with you people?!

    these people are HEROES!

    ok, no, they are not. they are efficient workers. they got trained and paid and they did their jobs. it works.

    why not give all concernced an extra day off, or a big fat bonus?

    i'm fine with that, but you don't get to be a "hero" for doing what you're paid to do!



    p.s. stuff and nonsense:

  47. Chris

    Re Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate

    I don't know about either incident, but I think your correction has to be even more wrong. No way could a plane that ran out of fuel over the Pacific manage to land in the Azores, which are located in the middle of the Atlantic.

    I suggest you read the wikipedia article you referenced yourself.

  48. Patrick O'Reilly

    Re:American Airlines

    I thing you guys have misinterpreted the author on this one. I think he ment "...most American airlines"

    as in airlines from the US. I.E. US Airways

    Mine's the one with the "Glad to be an Airbus passenger" patch on the arm.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Air Transit was glider over pacific. Air Canada over Gimli

    "It was Air Transit which had no fuel over the Pacific and landed at the Azores."

    Good trick with no fuel. Loo...oong way to fly.

    Thumbs-up to the design engineers and flight crew.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yee Haw!

    Why oh why do the bloody Yanks persist on praising God and overblowing stuff when some hard work by engineers works???

    "modern day miracle"

    "saved everybody's life, thank God"

    "truly heroic"

    etc etc ad nauseum

    The plane did what it was designed to do! People do what they do, with the tools at their disposal. The pilot did it right, fair play to him, he's saved a lot of lives; but to spout all this mumbojumbo bollocks demeans him and bores me. It wasn't the hand of god or heroism that ditched that plane without loss of life, it was good training, good design and redundancy.

    More importantly, did anyone else think that Capt Sullenberger looks like Capt Dave Grohl in Learn to Fly?

  51. Stuart Van Onselen

    No Miracle

    So, it was random chance that sent a goose or three into the engine, but God himself who arranged it that everybody was saved?

    Or maybe it was random chance/good engineering that saved the plane?

    It is really a cheap trick to ascribe to chance/the Devil all the bad things, and your favourite Deity all the good.

    So no, Mr Sanctimonious Doug Glass, I have not "sold myself to the devil" literally or metaphorically. There is no Devil, and I don't see why it's wrong to put my trust only in things that are real, not in wishful thinking and superstition.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Maybe, just for a moment, people might finally realise that despite being "run by computers" and "pilot is just there for show" the superb fly-by-wire Airbus has quite a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to such situations...automatic ditching configurations beside...the FACT THAT AN FBW AIRCRAFT CAN BE FLOWN BY A PILOT...

    ...clever chaps these engineers to think of such

    Superb job to all !

    ps: nets to protect engines from birds...time for you to get out a calculator and books about engine design and physics....

  53. raving angry loony


    Miracle invariably implies some sort of divine intervention, attributing good fortune to some figment of someones imagination. Yet if it was divine intervention, what about the sadistic little shithead deity that put the damn birds on the flight path in the first place? Nobody has a good rant at that piece of "divine intervention". If one denies that that some sort of omnipresent or omnipotent being was responsible for trying to kill these people in the first place (and succeeding regularly in other attempts), why attribute the beneficial results to this same deity?

    In my opinion, calling it a miracle detracts from the fantastic job done by the engineers who designed the plane, the people who built the plane, the pilots who flew the plane, the crew who got everyone out safely, and the onlookers who acted rather than just watch people drown.

  54. AJ

    For Crying Out Loud...

    ... It wasnt a miracle, it was simply a fantastic highly trained crew with a text book landing in one of the worlds most sophisticated jets which was designed to the highest possible standard - airbus should be proud of themselves for engineering such a marvel piece of technology and the crew should be honoured for their major part in landing the plane safely and getting the passengers out in one piece!

    Describing something as a miracle is typical of religious americans, there is no act of god, no miracle, god wasnt listening on this occasion (he never does when ppl are blown to bits in all the fighting over the world, look at gaza) it was simply good flying from skilled pilots in a plane that was built to survive it.

  55. Christoph

    Re miracle

    The comments I've seen (particularly on pprune) reckon that it is *very* rare to make such a successful ditching on water - some people thought it couldn't be done and that the safety briefings were just for morale. If you get it slightly wrong the plane will cartwheel and break up.

    The still water helped a lot but it was pilot skill that did it. But, as also said, you have to have a good aircraft!

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done Chesley Sullenberger

    The man deserves a medal, The World seems a little short of genuine heroes these days. I just hope he's at the controls on my next jolly to Spain.


    Typical of Americans to say that the Geese were Canadian

  57. Dave

    @Carolyn MacLeod

    There's been at least one successful ditching of a B707

  58. This post has been deleted by its author

  59. Anonymous Coward

    News Flash - Azores Transplanted to Pacific

    That is some glide from the Pacific to the Azores in mid north Atlantic.

  60. oxo
    Paris Hilton

    Brainless as usual

    "the one passenger who turned on his cell phone so his GPS could be used to locate his body"

    How exactly would that work, as his GPS is not a transmitter..?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about enabling voting on comments?

    Thumbs up, LaeMi Qian.

  62. Kanhef


    I wish people would stop referring to this accident as a 'crash', because it wasn't. It was a forced landing – the pilot was in control of the aircraft at all times. The plane remained intact except for losing the left engine. If they were closer to an airport, they would have made a routine gear-down landing. Same goes for the recent Heathrow accident; a few hundred more meters and it would have been an impressive landing, no damage, no injuries.

  63. Adrian Midgley

    limited time for lifejackets - sufficient?


    I'm not convinced that the absence of lifejackets correlates with passenger intelligence.

    The instructions I've read assume a certain amount of time to prepare, which would fit in an aircraft losing power at 30000 feet, plenty of time to take off a belt, dress, rebelt and then get out with the jacket on.

    In this accident, I doubt anyone should have unbelted between takeoff and ditching, which would leave them trying to evacuate while holding something if they chose to grab the jacket from under their seats.

    Given that they didn't need their lifejackets, in the event, it looks at least possible that neither those giving instructions, nor those listening to and executing the instructions or making their own decisions along with them got it wrong.

  64. Wolf
    Thumb Up

    Miracle, smiracle...

    The truth is, this was a perfect storm on the side of the angels--so to speak.

    Had the plane hit the bridge the carnage would have been horrific. Had the plane been out of position with regards to the river, had the pilot not been so well trained, or not had a VERY good day or had the river been rough, or had any of a hundred tiny little details not gone exactly right, we'd be mourning at least 155 dead, probably a lot more considering the dense urban area this happened in.

    Was this a miracle? Hell yes! Did God do it? Dunno, probably not, but then again does a miracle really need to be by God's own hand (so to speak)?

    Several years ago I personally was in a head on collision when an oncoming car crossed the center line on a curve (driver was either drunk or high). The impact happened under a railroad bridge with concrete pillars and had everything not gone perfectly right someone would have died--probably everyone. The other driver was doing a good 50+ MPH on a curve rated for 25.

    My survival was a miracle and I for one thanked God for the lucky break I got that day. Might have been God, probably was luck, but when you win the Cosmic Lottery why be stingy with your thanks, hmm? That's just being ungracious. On top of which, this wreck occurred on my birthday! Best present you can EVER get...surviving a disaster unscathed.

    It was the pilot who saved that plane. It was the plane's engineering that saved the passengers. It was the stringent safety regs that prompted the engineering. There's plenty of praise to go round, yes.

    But it was the pilot's hands on the controls, *he* was riding the razor's edge. So give him his props. He earned them.

    Turn it around. What if the plane had plowed into the bridge, or a skyscraper, or a school? Who'd get the blame?

    Something to think about.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    A Fine Examole...

    ...Of why I read El Reg.

    Neil Alexander says what must've been on lots of peoples minds. Fellow commentards* point out why they don't do the grill thing. And through the exchange I learned something new.

    Ladies and gents I raise my glass to you all.


    *sorry, it seems very vogue hereabouts to add 'tard' onto the end of everything. Just call me a postscriptard.

  66. Alex Rose

    @Destroy All Monsters

    In the US mobile phones have built in GPS to enable the emergency services to locate people more easily e.g. you call from your phone to say you're involved in a car accident but don't know exactly where you are the emergency services can activate the GPS in your handset and determine your location.

    Not sure how well it would have worked if his body had been underwater of course!

  67. Andus McCoatover

    Apparently Cpt. Sully's first reaction was..

    ""His instinct was to duck," said NTSB board member Kitty Higgins, recounting their interview. "

    To which the co-pilot said "no, Grouse"


  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

    Just one point. It was neither a crash no a miracle, it was an emergency landing.

  69. Anonymous Coward

    @Andus McCoatover

    According to AP reports today, the "ditch switch" was not thrown.

  70. Doug Glass

    @Stuart Van Onselen

    Thanks for the compliment; sorry I punched your button, Well...not really. :+)

    And I'm sorry you have no hope, that must be a cold feeling to know all you believe in is what you have created.

    <end of thread>

  71. Shonk

    Well Done Airbus

    Whilst i dont want to take anything away from the skill of the pilot

    everyone was lucky this wasnt a boeing or it would be in thousands of pieces now

  72. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it was me all along

    OK, you got me. It actually was me this time, I saw the plane in trouble and I put my omnipotent hand under the plane's belly so that all those nice people could be saved.

    So yes, it was a bona fide miracle.

    Mind you, when I heard about the stupid bitch who wouldn't get off without her luggage I almost wish I hadn't bothered.

  73. ian

    @Doug Glass

    I'm starting an airline flying 40-year old Boeing 707s with minimal maintenance and under-trained crew. I'm calling it "Faith-based Airlines". I expect you will want to fly with us (and all the other Christian cretins aboard).

    Our motto: "Fly with us when the Lord calls".

    Penguins because they can't fly either.

  74. Remy Redert

    @Carolyn MacLeod

    You'll find that, in addition to the linked 707 article above, there was an incident with a Dutch airplane losing power to both (turboprop) engines in an old anti-submarine recon plane, back in the 1970s.

    Said plane made a safe landing on water and sank rather promptly. No injuries or casualties as the 12 man crew got out in time and, unlike this incident, it wasn't very cold (and there wasn't anybody in the immediate vicinity to pick them up). They were picked up by a police boat after 20 or so minutes.

    Ditching a plane on water is hard, you need to be perfectly level when you hit the water because if either wing strikes first, things can go very badly indeed. Airbus planes are self-sealing, if they land successfully (which is up to the pilot), the crew and passengers should have plenty of time to get out. Many older designs aren't quite as good in that regard and will sink very fast indeed.

  75. Anonymous Coward

    Glider pilots

    Personally, I would rather fly with someone who learnt

    gliding any day over a non glider pilot. When it comes to dead stick landings, they are the best, as this and the gimli incident show! ( And you can be assured a glider pilot is trained to recover form fully developed spins too-something many power pilots have never done!)

    All glider landings would qualify as emergency landings in a power plane. In a glider you simply have to get it right first time every time, no engine to get you out of trouble.

  76. Squits

    A lesson to be learned

    Always keep your mobile phone switched on when flying, preferably sealed in a plastic bag and secreted in your anus. This way, the emergency services can find you. Even when underwater.

  77. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    IT Angle

    I see that everybody is a hero....

    Me, I'm wondering why he couldn't make it to the nearest airport, which was closer to him at the time of the birdstrike than the place on the river he eventually ended up.

    There could be good reasons for choosing the river, but, from looking at the track he took, it does look as if he could have used Teterboro. Given the dangers of a water landing, I wonder why he chose it...

  78. Mark
    Thumb Up

    @Ground Rush

    I thought that comment was pretty funny. Laughed my arse off at the lego set jibe. Keep up the good work.

  79. elderlybloke

    It takes two to Tango and fly a big Jet

    I am pleased that one or two people have now noticed that there were two pilots working together as a team to successfully do a forced landing in the river.

    Without a copilot that was as good as the captain , the outcome could have been a disaster.

    Aviation is no longer a solo effort.

    Incidentally , the pilots can't talk about this event, except to the investigating team.

  80. Andy Dent

    Lasers are the answer

    Lasers everywhere, poised to disintegrate geese in midflight.

    That yields a tidy "civilian" fleet which can deployed to take on the incoming ICBMS, neatly solving the problem of rapid response.

    Mine's the one with the dalek-melting souped-up "pointer" in the left pocket.

  81. Trygve

    @Patrick R

    "Go tell the Concorde pilot, the one that crashed in a hotel in 2000, two minutes after take off, go tell him he simply was'nt trained enough. Oh sorry, he's dead."

    Yep - that's what having a mishap in a plane at the cutting edge of early-sixties Anglo-French supersonic technology will do for you.

    If he'd been flying a nice new Airbus or Boing incorporating 40-odd years of incremental safety enchancements the chances are he and everyone else on board would have been fine. Because lots of people who are good at sums and stuff spend a good deal of time and effort making these incidents more surviveable with each new design - which was sort of the point of the article, I think.

  82. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Birds in the engine intake

    It's the Death Star all over again - Can't we board it up or, you know, put some plywood over it or something?

  83. vic denwood

    grills on air intakes

    Many years ago I was an engineer on Jaguar aircraft at Lossiemouth. When doing ground runs it was mandated that mesh engine intake screens were fitted to prevent foreign object ingestion and subsequent engine damage. The only problem is that the air intake causes a local depression in the air and thus cools the air flow. Accordingly we had air temperature / humidity limits that we could not do the ground runs becuase of induced icing on the screen mesh and the ice then possibly breaking off into the engine. It should be noted that we could fly aircraft normally without intake screens at temperature / humidity conditions that would be precluded if screens were fitted, thus by fitting a screen to the intake you severely limit the operating conditions for the engine. I cannot remember the exact figures but it could be as warm as 8 to 10 deg C at high levels of humidity and we would get intake screen icing. Trying to explain this to the aircrew, why we had not been able to ground run an engine and generate an airframe for the next days flying because it was too warm and mild, was something of a problem. The aircrew (class A personality killer types) view was that if I can fly it at that temperature then u can ground run it at that temperature and intake screen protection was only for wimps!

  84. Rob
    Thumb Up

    @Alex Rose

    I don't think every phone in the US is specially built with a GPS chip in. I think something has been lost in translation somewhere and they are actually referring to triangualtion to determine where a phone is.

    Having a GPS chip in your phone is expensive and a bog standard GPS chip will not transmit it's location it will only recieve.

    Although if I am wrong feel free to point me in the direction of said evidence.

  85. Allan Dyer

    Goose Times: Flock Killed by Reckless Aircraft

    I'm tired by the miracle/luck/skill debate, time to say there's another side to the story...

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    No one has mentioned who made the Engines. Rolls Royce ? GE ? Pratt & Whitney ?

    Is there some conspiracy to keep this secret or do the media think this is irrelevant ?

  87. hugo tyson
    Black Helicopters

    "GPS" phones

    In the US, every cellular base station (transmitting tower) has the ability to specially listen for, and record the signal timing of, a small number of cellphones. This is law, to give the ability to locate people who call emergency 911. Given the accurate signal timing they can trilaterate a fairly accurate position - better then just Cell Id. But since the special search is in the base stations, you can only do it for a few phones at once in any particular geographical area, and it doesn't automagically tell the phone, so it's not even like a GPS in that sense. It's done that way so it works with all phones without modification.

    So if they had asked the cellular provider to look for the particular phone of a missing guy as if he had called 911, then the network could have located him, provided his phone is on and has signal. But not using GPS, except in the 'tard usage that any positioning system is a GPS.

    Of course that particular guy might have a GPS phone and a misunderstanding of how GPS works. Or a GPS phone + some tracker software. Who knows?

    Black helicopter 'cos they know where you are...

  88. Anonymously Deflowered
    Thumb Up

    @Rob (@Alex Rose)

    Thank you for wording your "liar liar pants on fire" in a much better manner than Ground Rush's earlier efforts.

  89. Anonymous Coward

    What a load of KwaK! :)

    Whell, I think you might be well over the edge here. Yes Sully has a great background in flight training, and I commend the fact that US Air has this level of pilots on their fleet, but you missed it big on the A320 and engineering. Sealed planes to float? C´on, I either missed your cynic sarcasm or you forget that any flights in the troposphere require O2 and there fore the lanes must be sealed in order to pressurize the airplane, provide O2, and make the flight more conformable!

  90. Anonymous Coward

    Mobile Phone Locating

    This isn't just in the US, but we have it in the UK.

    Except it's not just limited to 911 - call for a breakdown truck and they can locate you based on your mobile phone signal - it's called triangulation and it doesn't require any special hardware in the phone so there is no reason why it wouldn't work on all phones in the US.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But it still relied on the captain's....

    ..decision to ditch into the Hudson. Had he continued to the airport they'd been diverted to (like I'm sure many would've) rather than realising he had a nice long (albeit wet) landing strip right underneath him (surely to do with his position on NTSB boards, extensive and varied experience, etc... and not Airbus).

    The resulting floating plane was down to Airbus, of course (whereas a Boeing would've filled up like a car in a storyline ending episode of Corrie). I sure there were plenty of merkins claiming God had intervened, but I just say they were a blooming lucky bunch of passengers not to have been on an earlier less well designed plane flown by a less experience pilot!

  92. Simon B

    Excellent writing

    An excellent article, and a nice viewpoint of the whole incident.

  93. Greg Moseley

    @Joe K

    Sky News did do this in a Flight Sim, although they did stop the film just as the plane touched the water... can't think why that would be!

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    More on grilles, and engines

    @Vic Denwood

    You've reminded me about the F-117A stealth attack aircraft (it's _not_ a fighter!) engine intakes, which use a mesh arrangment (although it's quite thick) which is needed to prevent radar energy reaching the very unstealthy engines (GE F404s) inside.

    It took a lot of effort to get these to work, mainly because the heating elements needed to prevent the formation of ice and the radar absorbent material were initially not very keen on each other, the latter peeling off when heated.

    As for the engine manufacturer AC, they would have been Snecma/GE CFM56s, probably the -5A variant. These are the more common of the two different engines fitted to A320s, the other being the IAE V2500, IAE being a consortium of various engine manufacturers including Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney, Japanese Aero Engines and MTU.

    We need a chipped goose icon!

  95. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Here here!

    Exactly what I said when I saw it. Not a miracle, but the result of a very diligent and well trained pilot and his equally well trained cabin crew, doing what they are paid to do. Yes, congratulations are in order but only in so far as that he did his job exactly as expected and I hope he will receive some form or financial renumeration for his hard work under pressure.

    Miracle? No. Leave that to a certain Mr Jesus of the Christ family eh?

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: was no miracle

    One gets the impression the author of this article and most of the commentators are basing everything on their prior experience with a toy wooden plane. Landing something that size (a) without engines and (b) on a freaking river(!) during (c) bad weather conditions (!!!) deserves a medal the size of the city it could have devastated.

    And to state that experience in flying a one man glider has any impact on performing an emergency glide approach into water in a passenger jet is err ... well words can't even begin to describe that one (big hint: You're not looking for thermals to soar over when that baby's coming down!)

    Anybody claiming the pilot was "just doing what he was trained to" needs to slap themselves quite hard as that's about what this kind of statement deserves (big big hint: You, surprisingly enough, can't practice actually ditching a passenger jet into water, will a full load of passengers at that, outside of a simulator ... funnily enough airlines haven't got the budget to spend on single use training airliners).

  97. Will

    A miracle? Yes indeed.

    Or perhaps the author could point me in the direction of any other successful landing on water without fatalities?

  98. Riscyrich
    Thumb Up

    @ Ground Rush

    ROFLMFAO - Legendary comment....

  99. Jeff Rowse

    @Trygve - Air France Concorde

    If he'd been flying early-sixties Anglo-French supersonic technology with 40-odd years of inremental safety enhancements then that Air france Concorde would probably have survived.

    However, Air France chose to save a few francs-worth of fuel by not bothering to fit the tank liners recommended after earlier tank-holing incidents. Please do not confuse beancounter and shareholder tight-fistedness with aviation engineering. Funnily enough, Brutish Airways Concordes had the tank liners fitted and, although they sometimes lost a bit of fuel when FOD penetrated the wing skin, they never lost a whole bird...

  100. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Will 19th January 2009 14:12 GMT

    Ask and you shall receive, isn't that what people who believe in miracles also believe?

    16 September 1966 DC-3 landed on the sea after left engine failure shortly after take-off. All 24 passengers survived the landing but unfortunately one died of a heart attack whilst waiting to be picked up.

  101. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  102. Andrew Kemp

    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...

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  104. Rune Moberg

    Miracles, schmirkacles

    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?

  105. Iain Gray

    Forget nets

    What aircraft need is anti-bird lasers.

  106. Richard Mason

    @Bird Damage

    "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.

  107. John Freas

    'e didn't so much fly as plummet.

    Regarding gliding:

    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.

  108. Elldee

    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.

  109. Paul M.
    Dead Vulture

    "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!"

  110. Jon Minhinnick
    Thumb Up

    @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!


  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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?

  112. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  113. paul bell

    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 (-:

  114. John Freas

    No, the F-14s are all gone, we need the cash for the new toys.

    @Anon Coward:

    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: 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 :)

  115. n

    easy fix

    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?"

    My answer,

    "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!"

This topic is closed for new posts.