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Accident Report Detail

Loss of Thrust in Both Engines, US Airways Flight 1549 Airbus Industrie A320-214, N106US

Executive Summary

​On January 15, 2009, about 1527 eastern standard time, US Airways flight 1549, an Airbus Industrie A320-214, N106US, experienced an almost complete loss of thrust in both engines after encountering a flock of birds and was subsequently ditched on the Hudson River about 8.5 miles from LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York City, New York. The flight was en route to Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina, and had departed LGA about 2 minutes before the in-flight event occurred. The 150 passengers, including a lap-held child, and 5 crewmembers evacuated the airplane via the forward and overwing exits. One flight attendant and four passengers were seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The scheduled, domestic passenger flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

Contributing to the survivability of the accident was (1) the decision-making of the flight crewmembers and their crew resource management during the accident sequence; (2) the fortuitous use of an airplane that was equipped for an extended overwater flight, including the availability of the forward slide/rafts, even though it was not required to be so equipped; (3) the performance of the cabin crewmembers while expediting the evacuation of the airplane; and (4) the proximity of the emergency responders to the accident site and their immediate and appropriate response to the accident.

The safety issues discussed in this report relate to the following: in-flight engine diagnostics, engine bird-ingestion certification testing, emergency and abnormal checklist design, dual-engine failure and ditching training, training on the effects of flight envelope limitations on airplane response to pilot inputs, validation of operational procedures and requirements for airplane ditching certification, and wildlife hazard mitigation. The report also discusses survival-related issues, including passenger brace positions; slide/raft stowage; passenger immersion protection; life line usage; life vest stowage, retrieval, and donning; preflight safety briefings; and passenger education. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the FAA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the ingestion of large birds into each engine, which resulted in an almost total loss of thrust in both engines and the subsequent ditching on the Hudson River. Contributing to the fuselage damage and resulting unavailability of the aft slide/rafts were (1) the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) approval of ditching certification without determining whether pilots could attain the ditching parameters without engine thrust, (2) the lack of industry flight crew training and guidance on ditching techniques, and (3) the captain's resulting difficulty maintaining his intended airspeed on final approach due to the task saturation resulting from the emergency situation.​

Accident Location: Weehawken , NJ    
Accident Date: 1/15/2009
Accident ID: DCA09MA026

Date Adopted: 5/4/2010
NTSB Number: AAR-10-03
NTIS Number: PB2010-910403

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