Mayday (2013) s10e05 Episode Script

Hudson River Runway

After take-off checklist complete.
US Airways Flight 1549 has just left New York's LaGuardia Airport.
Birds! And that fast, we were just on top of them.
- My aircraft.
- Your aircraft.
Both of the plane's engines have stopped working.
Mayday, mayday, mayday.
This is Cactus 1549.
The plane is falling from the sky.
There are only a few seconds to decide what to do.
MAN: (OVER RADIO) We can get it for you on runway 13.
We're unable.
155 lives depend on the pilots making the right call.
Hey, Cactus 1549, you can land runway 1 at Teterboro.
Can't do it.
With a bad option on the right and a worse one on the left, the crew decides to put their Airbus on the runway that's dead ahead.
We're going to be in the Hudson.
New York's LaGuardia Airport, mid-afternoon.
Please take a moment to listen to this important US Airways flight 1549 is a short hop from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina.
At least it will be a little warmer in Charlotte.
Your seat serves as a flotation device.
Together in the cockpit today are Captain Chesley Sullenberger, 57 Clear to push.
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and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, We were late because the weather was bad earlier, but by this point, the weather had cleared off for our departure and it was just puffy clouds.
MAN: (OVER RADIO) 28 breaks release.
Spot 28 for Cactus 1549.
150 passengers are onboard the European-made Airbus A320.
Businessman Clay Presley is on his way home to Charlotte.
I arrived at the airport, at LaGuardia.
It was very cold.
It had been snowing a little bit that day and we had a storm coming in, so we wanted to make sure we made that flight and weren't hung up or delayed on some later flight.
The crew flew in an hour earlier from Charlotte with Sullenberger at the controls.
Your brakes.
Your aircraft.
First Officer Skiles will be flying the plane back to Charlotte.
Clear aircraft.
It's a common sharing of piloting duties.
MAN: (OVER RADIO) Cactus 1549, runway 4.
Cleared for take-off.
Cactus 1549, cleared for take-off.
This trip marks the final leg of a four-day sequence of flights for both men.
We made our standard callouts.
It was just a normal take-off, normal procedures on the climb-out.
There was absolutely nothing at all to indicate that this would be any different to any other take-off in my entire career.
But, by the end of the day, they'll be the most famous crew on the planet.
Gear up planes.
Gear up.
Patrick Harten is one of the controllers handling traffic out of LaGuardia today.
He has one of the most stressful jobs in the world.
When I sit down in front of a radar, I am responsible for every person on every aeroplane under my control.
And I take that responsibility very seriously.
Cactus 1549, New York departure, radar contact.
Climb and maintain 15,000.
The flight will climb north-east out of LaGuardia and then begin a slow turn south towards Charlotte.
I think I had about three or four aeroplanes on my frequency at that time and it was just a normal departure.
You know, it was just another flight that I've handled a million times.
Riding the thrust of two General Electric engines, the aircraft powers into the sky.
Cactus 1549.
700, climbing 5,000.
What a beautiful Hudson today.
Yeah.
After take-off checklist complete.
Flight 1549 is travelling at almost 400 km/h.
It's been in the air for just a minute and a half.
I caught something out of the corner of my eye, and slightly to our right, but still ahead of us, was a line of birds and they were very, very close.
Too close for us to manoeuvre around.
Whoa! And that fast, we were just on top of them.
You can just feel the power of the plane going forward and then all of a sudden there was this gigantic boom.
It seemed like it stopped in mid-air, like we hit a brick wall.
Then all of a sudden, somebody said, "The left engine's on fire!" Before we could even assess the situation We've got one roll, both of them rolling back.
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both engines rolled back to idle.
The ignition's stuck.
Just 13 seconds after their problems began, Sullenberger takes control of the struggling plane.
- My aircraft.
- Your aircraft.
Get the QRH.
Loss of thrust in both engines.
The QRH, or quick reference handbook, is a step-by-step guide to dealing with emergencies.
Mayday, mayday, mayday! This is Cactus 1549.
Hit birds.
We've lost thrust in both engines.
We're turning back towards LaGuardia.
When the pilot says mayday or declares an emergency, you go from a focused state to a hyper-focused state.
You're just focusing on the emergency itself and, you know, figure out the solution to the problem.
OK.
You need to return to LaGuardia.
Turn left, heading 220.
All of a sudden, there was a smell that came through the cabin.
Something's burning! If fuel remaining, engine mode selector ignition.
What I am thinking, though, at this point, is thatyou know, we're just going to have to restart an engine.
Thrust levers.
Confirm idle.
Idle.
The procedure is to try to restart the engines and I .
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I always had faith we could do that.
Airspeed optimum relay 300 knots.
- We don't have that.
- We don't.
HARTEN: Cactus 1549, if we can get it for you, we'll try to land on runway 13.
We're unable.
The conversations with Captain Sullenberger were very short and to the point, which was very appropriate for the emergency.
There was a lot going on and there wasn't much time to handle it.
When Capt Sullenberger simply said unable, I It didn't bother me.
I mean, he had his hands full flying the aeroplane and I understood that.
So my job is just to move on to the next option.
Alright, Cactus 1549, it's going to be traffic for runway 31.
Unable.
Harten still wants the jet to return to LaGuardia, but Flight 1549 is now just 1,400 feet above the ground.
Cactus 1549, runway 4's available if you want to take a left.
Traffic runway 4.
I am not sure we can make any runway.
What's to our right? Anything in New Jersey? Teterboro? OK, yeah.
Off to your right side is Teterboro Airport.
You want to try to go to Teterboro? Teterboro is a small airport on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, but it's several kilometres away.
And without their engines, Flight 1549 is dropping fast.
- You want to try to go to Teterboro? - Yes.
When the air traffic controller pointed out Teterboro, I looked at it and I stopped, and I was kind of concerned that he was actually going to try for it.
I didn't think we could make it.
So, you're sitting there very quietly, and people were anxiously waiting for information, and they wanted reassurance that things are going to be OK.
- Could hear that microphone come on.
- (MICROPHONE STATIC) This is the captain.
We were hoping he was going to say, "I've got this under control.
"We're going to be OK.
We're going to make it.
"We going to turn around and go back and land.
" That's what you are hoping to hear.
Brace for impact.
What does he mean, "Brace for impact"? And then, all of a sudden, it registered.
I think he's saying we going to crash.
Get your heads down! I had no idea about how to brace for an impact.
Everybody's looking around.
"Brace for impact? "What do you mean, brace for impact? And how do you brace?" Go ahead.
Try number 1.
I've put it back on.
OK.
Put it back on.
While the crew struggles to fly their stricken plane, Patrick Harten is still trying to find them an airport.
HARTEN: I actually worked Teterboro Airport for about three years, so I was very familiar with the airport.
Hey, Cactus 1549, you can land runway 1 at Teterboro.
Can't do it.
OK.
Which runway would you like at Teterboro? We're going to be in the Hudson.
I'm sorry.
Say again, Cactus? I could hear him, but my mind didn't really want to comprehend those words.
We're going to be in the Hudson.
That was a death sentence for him.
And I didn't want to accept the fact that it was over and there were no more options left.
(SIGHS) I don't think we're going back to LaGuardia.
I just emailed my wife and just said, "I love you.
" I didn't say anything else because I really did not want her to worry.
OK.
Let's go.
Put the flaps up.
I thought to myself, "Great.
" The Hudson River was our best opportunity.
It was really the only thing in sight where we could land this airplane.
Passengers throughout the plane watched the Hudson rise to meet them and begin making preparations of their own.
So I started thinking about, if we're going to crash, I know I need to figure out where the exit rows are.
If the water comes in, you need to be able to hold your breath long enough to get to those four or five rows and get the doors open if you can.
Got flaps out.
250 feet in the air.
We are not going to be able to get an engine started, so I starting calling out airspeeds and altitudes 170 knots.
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to give him a situational awareness of what was going on.
Got flaps 2.
You want more? No, let's stay at 2.
Got any ideas? Actually, none.
We were so focused on what we were doing, and I always thought it would work out.
Below 300 feet, Patrick Harten's radar can't see the plane.
Flight 1549 disappears.
When the aircraft disappeared off my radar, I just assumed that there weren't gonna be any survivors.
In the cabin, the passengers prepare for the inevitable.
All the passengers really started kind of pulling together, and somebody yelled out as we were going down MAN: Be ready at the doors.
The folks at the doors say, "We're ready.
" I was just scared to death.
We're gonna brace.
It looked like the airplane was going right for the bottom of the Hudson River.
All we saw was water cascading over the windshield.
- (SCREAMS) - It was like a tornado.
Pieces of the plane were being torn apart.
Some people were thrown around pretty good.
Then the airplane popped up.
And it was just sort of gently rocking in the waves.
We all just sat there.
We were all in shock, and we were waiting for what's next.
US Airways Flight 1549 was in the air for just five minutes and eight seconds.
Having made a remarkable landing, the passengers and crew now face a new danger.
The plane is leaking.
The ice-cold water of the Hudson is pouring into the cabin.
The crew of Flight 1549 has just performed an extremely difficult aviation feat, but they still have more work to do.
Captain Sullenberger heads for the cabin while First Officer Skiles shuts down the plane.
SKILES: I stayed behind and did the evacuation checklist, and so it was probably 45 seconds before I actually went back myself in the cabin after we landed.
In an instant, the 75-million-dollar plane has become an unlikely boat floating down the Hudson River.
It's now filling with freezing water.
That water was cold.
It was very cold, so your feet are freezing.
People came to their senses, and they said, "Get the doors open.
Get the doors open.
" At air traffic control, Patrick Harten has no idea the plane even made it down safely.
HARTEN: I didn't think anyone could survive a water landing like that.
They got me off position, because I was obviously in no condition to work traffic anymore.
Harten is led to his union office.
Despite his ordeal, protocol demands he recount his version of events.
I really didn't wanna speak to anyone.
I just wanted to kind of hide under a rock.
I needed my wife to know what had happened, but I knew I couldn't talk to her because I was pretty much in a fragile state, and I didn't wanna break down.
So I sent her a simple text message, in which I said, "Had a crash.
I'm not okay.
Can't talk now.
" Passengers nearest the exits open the doors quickly while Sullenberger and cabin crew begin managing the evacuation.
I just jumped up very quickly and started making my way to the emergency door.
And so I worked my way out on to the wing, just a few steps to start with.
I started noticing that people around me had their flotation devices.
They'd pulled up their seat bottoms, or they had a life jacket they had taken.
I had nothing with me.
Skiles heads back to help the crew in the cabin get passengers out of the sinking plane.
He knows there's not much time, and one of the flight attendants has been injured.
I went back to about mid-cabin, and Sully and I and two young men were getting seat cushions and life vests, which are underneath the seats, and we're passing them out.
And I'm looking around, trying to assess the situation - "Is the plane gonna blow up? What's the next step?" And yeah, there were actually probably six or eight people that went into the water.
They were shivering, and they were cold.
You started pulling them back up on to the wing.
At the back of the plane, water continues pouring in.
Passengers are directed to move forward to escape.
WOMAN: Go over the seats if you have to.
This unwieldy boat won't be floating much longer.
We were actually in the water you know, up to our knees, and it was just absolutely freezing cold.
You know, every part of your body that was in that water just ached to the bone.
Come forward! Is there anybody here? We were very confident there was nobody left on the airplane, but what was going on on the wings, we just had no idea.
Skiles and Sullenberger are the last ones off the plane.
I just saw the big splash, when the plane justbounced over the water.
Small commercial airline, crashed into the water.
They've been in the water more than 10 minutes already.
LaGuardia Airport has sent out an alert to New York's emergency services.
In the middle of the Hudson, 155 frozen people hope that help will arrive in time.
I saw the first ferry, and I could see the wheelhouse, and I felt like, "OK, we're really gonna be OK.
" There was a sigh of relief.
First on the scene are passenger ferries that have been shuttling people across the Hudson.
They are eventually joined by the Coast Guard and Fire Department.
The atmosphere on the ferry was still one of concern, because we didn't know whether all the passengers got off the plane at that point in time.
I was sitting in the union office, preparing to make my statement.
Where do I start? And that's when one of my friends popped their head into the office, said, "Hey, Patty "it looks like everyone made it.
" And I was like, "Really?" That was incredible news.
I mean, I was still traumatised by the event itself, but the fact that everyone made it was just .
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it was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.
The entire nation looks on as every single passenger and the entire crew of Flight 1549 is brought to safety.
- It's cold! - MAN: Are you OK? Yeah! Like so many others around the world, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are riveted to the pictures.
Hey, you've gotta see this.
We learned a little bit about the accident, of course, before we launched.
The TV channels were showing the aircraft in the river and everything.
All agree that the landing is extraordinary.
I think it was a miracle, and I'm very blessed to have walked away.
I reached over to Captain Sully and just said, "I just want you to know that you saved my life, "and everyone's lives here.
" In my mind, we were dead, and every one of us came out of that alive.
It's a miracle.
By evening, the plane is almost completely underwater.
The current is pushing it towards the edge of the river.
The aircraft was tied up against the pier, and we went down to look at it, to see what we were up against, of course, but you can't do much at night.
NTSB investigator Harald Reichel arrives on the scene.
The water was dark, of course.
We just saw the tail, and most of the fuselage, and one of the wings was underneath the water.
We knew it was going to be quite difficult to get it A, out of the water, and then B, to a place where we could examine the components of the airplane in a more controlled manner.
For investigators, it's an unusual situation.
Normally, their main task is to uncover the cause of a crash.
With Flight 1549, the cause seems obvious.
Birds.
The original mayday call was clear.
Mayday, mayday, mayday.
This is Cactus 1549.
Hit birds.
We've lost thrust in both engines.
We're turning back towards LaGuardia.
The crew reported that they hit several birds shortly after take-off.
I think everybody realised that a bird strike had occurred, but people didn't know what kind of birds brought the aircraft down, whether it might've been a combination of a bird strike plus something else, whether the crew acted and flew the aircraft as they should have.
My aircraft.
- Your aircraft.
- Get the QRH.
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US Airways pilot made an incredibly skilful emergency landing in the Hudson River.
Investigators want to interview both pilots, but their sudden fame makes them hard to get to.
It became a little bit more difficult than usual to A, locate the flight crew, and then B, to talk to them.
They were instant heroes.
Nothing in life can prepare one for the media frenzy of a situation, you know, like this.
And it's not just the pilots' newfound celebrity that's an obstacle for investigators like Katherine Wilson.
One of the most challenging things in this case was nobody wanted to sully Sully.
You know, he was a hero in this case, and we were the ones who were potentially going to pick apart what he did and try to find out what he did, and whether it was right or not.
To prove that birds caused the crash, authorities needs to get the plane out of the water.
But a vital piece in missing.
We'd been told earlier that both engines were still attached to the aircraft.
That turned out not to be true.
So that became a major goal, right off the bat - to figure out where that second engine was.
We didn't know exactly where it was.
Let's focus on this area.
But we had films of the aircraft actually touching down, and we could cross-reference different things.
We used some side-scanning sonar that gave us a very clear picture of the bottom.
It wasn't that easy to do, because the Hudson River has a current, and the current changes throughout the day.
So it took three days, ultimately, to find the engine.
Within days, the recovered engine and the rest of the aircraft are moved to a warehouse in New Jersey so investigators can study the wreckage more carefully.
We certainly couldn't do it out there at the edge of the Hudson River.
And you can imagine how interesting it was to take an airplane 150 or 200 feet long through a very, very populated area of New Jersey.
As the plane is being moved, investigators work with the voice and data recorders OK, let's hear it.
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which were in the most damaged part of the plane - the tail.
The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were in virtually pristine shape.
The aircraft had sustained quite a bit of damage in the rear end, but the recorders themselves survived very well.
We were really lucky.
All of the data was able to be downloaded normally.
We've got one roll both of them rolling back.
Listening to the CVR provides vital insight into how the crew responded to the emergency.
In this case, both Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles acted extremely professionally.
Ignition start.
Each member had their own roles and responsibilities.
They stayed with those roles and responsibilities throughout the accident flight, and communicated only when necessary.
Put the flaps up.
On Flight 1549 My aircraft.
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it took just seconds for the crew to each assume their individual responsibilities.
Part of the reason they handled the emergency so well was that Jeffrey Skiles had only just finished his Airbus training.
It was my first trip out as a regular line pilot in the Airbus A320.
It literally was right out of training.
And the benefit of that was that he knew exactly the checklist to turn to, and that's exactly what he did.
Fuel remaining, engine mode selector, ignition.
Crews are highly trained in emergency procedures, and the main thing is to follow procedures in this instance, and that's exactly what First Officer Skiles did by grabbing the quick-reference handbook and turning to the appropriate checklist.
But as investigators examine the checklist for restarting this plane's engines, they make a troubling discovery.
It was assembled for an event that occurred 20,000 feet in the air, where a crew would have plenty of time to slowly and carefully go through a three-page checklist.
The end of which was how do we ditch the airplane? So it was a three-page checklist, and really, I only got to about a page and a half through this checklist in the time that we had.
Airspeed, optimum relay.
And the crew spent a lot of time trying to restart the engines when they could've been focusing on preparing the airplane for the ditching.
300 knots.
We don't have that.
We don't.
Overly complicated checklists have played a role in deadly plane crashes in the past.
In 1998, a fire broke out onboard a Swissair passenger jet.
The checklist the crew used for that situation would've taken them up to half an hour to complete.
It's a half hour they didn't have.
But on Flight 1549, the checklist was far from the greatest challenge facing Sullenberger and Skiles.
I'm not sure we can make any runway.
Water landings are notoriously difficult, because unless they're perfect, they can be catastrophic.
In 1996, after a hijacking, an Ethiopian Airlines captain tried to land off the Comoros Islands when the plane ran out of fuel.
His left wing hit the water first, causing the plane to cartwheel.
It was ripped to pieces.
Of the 175 people onboard, only 50 survived.
Investigators soon learn that none of the major airlines use simulators to teach pilots how to land on water.
Training for ditching in a simulator is very difficult.
We don't have the models to accurately simulate what an airplane would do when it touches down on water.
Given the rarity of this type of event, it would be very difficult to justify training pilots for this type of event.
But even without ever going through a simulation, Captain Sullenberger got almost everything right.
He kept the nose up, and wings level.
He let the tail hit the water first, slowing the jet down enough so that it survived the impact.
Nice flyin'.
NTSB investigators turn to their own simulation to answer a vital question.
This is the captain.
Did Sullenberger have to land in the Hudson? Brace for impact.
Or could he have made it to a runway? Mayday, mayday, mayday.
This is Cactus 1549.
Investigators study Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles' actions in the moments after their plane collided with birds.
Ignition.
WILSON: We wanted to know did the pilots do the right thing? So what we did in the simulator was we tested exactly that.
Was there enough energy to make it back to LaGuardia? What we found was that about 50% of the time, we were able to make it back to the airport.
But when a 35-second delay is imposed after the bird strike to account for the crew's attempt to restart the engines, all of the simulator pilots crash before reaching the runway.
When we took into consideration the decision-making process that Captain Sullenberger went through, we realised that it was not possible to make it back to the airport.
Cactus 1549, runway 4's available.
There's no doubt We're going to be in the Hudson.
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putting the plane in the Hudson was the right call.
Sullenberger didn't have enough altitude to glide to either LaGuardia or Teterboro airports.
Got one roll.
Both of them rolling back.
The investigators also discover that Sullenberger made a decision that wasn't at the top of the checklist, one that was critical to the survival of everyone on board.
I'm starting the APU.
On commercial jet liners, the engines provide power to electrical systems.
If the engines stop working, the crew eventually loses those systems.
The APU is an emergency generator that keeps some things running.
The APU allowed him to still see his screens.
The instruments still work.
It also allowed the A320 itself to assist with the heroic landing.
The APU provided power to the plane's electronic brain, stopping the pilots from making any potentially dangerous moves.
It kept them inside a so-called flight envelope.
By starting the APU early in the sequence, the flight crew was able to maintain the flight envelope protections, which prevented the airplane from stalling when the air speed got too slow.
It was right on the edge of stall speed.
The flight data shows that Sullenberger was going slower than the ideal speed.
The air speed during the accident sequence got about 20 knots slower than it should've been for this flight.
But the A380's flight computer is designed to constantly adjust the plane's pitch and keep it from stalling.
We definitely could've had a much more catastrophic outcome had the airplane actually stalled.
Starting the APU.
Sullenberger's quick thinking made sure the plane's complex computer system kept working.
It gave him an automated safety net so he'd have the best chance to do the nearly impossible.
We're going to be in the Hudson.
It was a combination of a good crew and a good airplane.
Let's go.
Put the flaps up.
The captain had the presence of mind, for instance, just before they were about to land, a couple of hundred feet in the air, to turn to the first officer and ask Got any ideas? Actually not.
They were both coordinating right up to the end, and that's what we like to see.
Skill, training and the aircraft's very design combined to save the lives of 155 people.
But investigators still want to know how birds crippled two highly advanced jet engines and if they can stop it from happening again.
Eight days after the crash, investigators are finally able to examine the engines in detail.
Richard Dolbeer has spent much of his career studying collisions between birds and airplanes.
When aircraft strikes a bird, generally there's not much left of the bird, particularly if that bird goes through the engine.
The engines are analysed piece by piece to try and figure out exactly what happened 3,000 feet above New York.
Let's look inside.
MAN: We exposed the engine surfaces to a black light.
Proteins from many tissues will fluoresce with a black light.
Much of the tissue was already gone but many of the proteins stayed on the surfaces of the engine.
Look at that.
Deep in the right engine, investigators find about a cup of charred remains.
Most of the remains found were just muscle tissue, bone fragments and miniscule feather remains.
I was able to find about 29 samples in one engine and 14 in the other.
But the engines aren't the only part of the plane that's been damaged.
- Birds.
- Whoa! The aircraft hit many birds.
We found evidence on the wings and on the flaps and on the fuselage.
But the plane can still fly when that occurs.
The threat posed by bird strikes is well known.
Bird strikes are a much bigger problem than the general public realises.
In the last 20 years, there have been approximately 210 aircraft that have been destroyed because of collisions with birds.
This Boeing 757 ingested a crow while taking off from Manchester, England, later landing safely.
In 2008 alone, there were four dramatic accidents.
A Boeing 747 sucked a kestrel into one of its engines.
The crew aborted take-off and survived.
The plane was ruined.
This jet ingested pelicans into both engines and one ended up in the cockpit.
Repairs cost 2 million.
The engine of an MD-10 was severely damaged by a gadwall.
The repair cost was 900,000.
And five people were killed when this Cessna smashed into at least one pelican.
More than 200 people have died in bird strike accidents since 1988.
The problem could get worse because there are more birds out there.
By restricting the use of pesticides that were hazardous to birds, such as DDT, we've seen a tremendous rebound in the populations of bird species.
A remarkable increase in the Canada geese that are resident, non-migratory birds.
Nationwide, the population has grown from about 1 million to about 4 million.
At LaGuardia, one of the airport's biggest problems is a year-round goose colony on nearby Rikers Island.
In the year 2002 to 2004, there were eight Canada goose strikes at LaGuardia Airport involved birds either on the airport or right off the airport.
One of those strikes almost caused a plane to crash and it was a very close call.
For the past several years, airport officials have rounded up hundreds of geese from Rikers Island and euthanised them.
It's controversial but should be effective.
So where did these birds come from? If the geese that hit US Airways Flight 1549 were local, they can be controlled.
Investigators need to know more about them.
The remains that we did find were so small that we couldn't really tell what type of birds.
We enlisted the help of the Smithsonian Institution.
They can take remains, even very small remains, small pieces of feathers or flesh or whatever, and they can identify them.
The hope is that DNA analysis of the remains will not only confirm the birds' species, but also offer clues as to where they came from.
While they wait for answers, investigators turn to answering the question of how a few birds forced a 68-tonne jet from the sky.
Before they can be used in a passenger jet, engines undergo rigorous testing to prove they can perform under extreme conditions.
The tests include ingesting frozen bird carcasses.
The CFM turbo fan engines that power the A320 passed those tests and were certified in 1996.
The large bird test required for the CFM engine is shooting a 4-pound bird from an air cannon into the engine, which is running at near full power.
To pass, the engines don't have to keep running.
They only have to stay together, which they did on Sullenberger's plane.
The engines did not experience what we call uncontained failure.
No large chunks of fan blades or anything flew out through the cowls to hurt people inside the airplane.
Fan blades are always the most interesting part to look at.
They often tell quite a story.
A series of fan blades throughout the engine compress incoming air until it's ignited in the core, creating thrust.
Ingested birds can wreak havoc on this process.
When a fan blade of an engine fails, it causes a lot of continuing damage.
In this particular case, all the fan blades were there.
They suffered severe damage but none were broken.
An analysis of the engine shows that while the primary fan blades survived the impact, the delicate machinery inside the cores of both engines did not.
Uh-oh.
We got one roll both of them rolling back.
Once we went into the engine itself, into the core, we determined that there was significant damage.
When a bird gets ingested into the core, it is such a large mass compared to these blades that it does a lot of damage to them.
The birds ingested into Flight 1549 Mayday, mayday, mayday.
This is Cactus 1549.
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ripped apart the engine's compressors.
Metal shards from these broken compressors were sucked deep into the cores of both engines, shutting them down.
We've hit birds.
We've lost thrust in both engines.
When DNA results come back from the Smithsonian Institution, investigators finally understand why Flight 1549 lost both its engines.
The birds that struck Sullenberger and Skiles' aircraft were adult Canada geese.
They were far larger than anything the engines were ever tested for.
Because of that analysis, we know that these birds ingested, each probably weighed about 10 pounds.
The tests also confirm that as many as four large birds had hit Flight 1549's engines.
It was simply too much for them to handle.
Rarely do birds get ingested into the corner of the engine.
- Rarely - Uh-oh.
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does an engine ingest the bird and then stop running completely.
That's a very rare event.
Ignition start.
What makes this one even rarer is that both engines ingested birds and both shut down.
We're going to be in the Hudson.
The DNA test also proves that the geese involved in this accident were not the local geese that LaGuardia has worked so hard to manage.
These were geese that had been in northern Canada during the proceeding summer.
They were migratory geese.
The collision between the migrating geese and Flight 1549 happened seven kilometres from the airport.
It means that none of the existing programs for reducing the number of birds would have prevented the collision.
It also means that what happened to that flight could happen again, unless a way can be found to keep birds and planes apart.
(INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER) Every year, about 2 million planes pass over New York's airspace.
Most people do not appreciate the problems that birds can cause to aircraft.
They don't realise how a small, seemingly insignificant organism in relation to the size of an aircraft can cause these kinds of catastrophic failures.
The airline industry needs to find solutions to bird strikes.
Placing screens in front of the engines is one of the most obvious answers.
But there are serious drawbacks.
Screens can fall off.
Screens can break.
And then they would be ingested into the engine, causing similar damage or more catastrophic damage.
Screens can also introduce turbulence to the air flow, which can starve the engines of air, causing them to fail.
Winter weather is also a serious problem for engine screens.
A screen is a perfect ice builder and will accrete ice very quickly in icy conditions.
A more promising solution is already being tested in several American cities, including New York.
At John F.
Kennedy Airport, specialised radar is sweeping the skies, looking for birds near planes.
Most airports are equipped with radar that sends out radio waves that simply bounce off objects in the sky.
Typically only large objects are seen and most of this information isn't passed along to air traffic controllers.
BENZON :The fact is that their scopes would be cluttered with things.
Tall masts from ships, for instance, would pop up on their radar as low targets.
The clutter, in fact, would interfere with air traffic control and that's not a good thing.
But now finely calibrated avian radar is being tested at JFK.
It can distinguish items the size of hummingbirds.
If any birds are detected moving through flight paths, crews could be alerted.
I would love to see bird radar technology.
The key would be how to incorporate that without increasing workload to an already stressed controller.
Tests continue but widespread use of avian radar is still years away.
MAN: (OVER RADIO) Cactus 1549, runway 4, cleared for take-off.
Cactus 1549, clear for take-off.
Until then, collisions between birds and planes will continue.
What the safe outcome of Flight 1549 proved is that right now, the best defence against this threat is a good team in the cockpit.
We had a very experienced flight crew with very good training.
- My aircraft.
- Your aircraft.
Get the QRH.
SKILES: All the training that you've done in all the years that you've been flying the airplanes, it all just comes back to you when you need it.
My aircraft.
Your aircraft.
Sully and I work together extremely well in this event.
I knew what was in his mind and he knew what was in my mind.
We were both accomplished in our individual roles but we have a knowledge of the whole situation.
OK, you need to return to LaGuardia.
Turn left, heading 220.
This event definitely puts things in perspective for you as a controller.
One thing I appreciate more, the teamwork and how, when you work together, you can pretty much accomplish whatever you need to accomplish.
To your right is Teterboro Airport.
You want to try and make it? We're going to be in the Hudson.
The landing in the Hudson took training and skill.
It also took a bit of luck.
We had a very clear day.
We had a perfect condition for the river.
So there was just a series of really fortunate events that occurred that assisted this crew in landing successfully on the river.
BENZON: On the safety board, we don't really deal in miracles very often but this event had a lot of things that came together at the right time at the right place so a lot of us are thinking, "Well, maybe we do have a miracle here.
" What a view of the Hudson today.