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'We're gonna be in the Hudson,' crash tape reveals

Video by FRANCE 24 , Shona BHATTACHARYYA , FRANCE 2

Latest update : 2009-02-06

Tapes released of the moments before US Airways Flight 1549 splashed down in New York's Hudson River reveal that the pilot remained calm before his unexpected Jan. 15 landing. All 150 passengers and five crew managed to evacuate safely.

AFP - The crew of a US Airways jetliner disabled by birds that knocked out both its engines over New York calmly told air controllers: "We're gonna be in the Hudson" before splash landing in the river, according to tapes of the account released on Thursday.

 

The Federal Aviation Administration recordings revealed a four-minute segment of clipped, matter-of-fact radio communication between the pilots of Flight 1549 and controllers, who cleared the skies to get the stricken plane with 155 passengers and crew in for an emergency landing.

 

The recordings start with the Airbus A320 apparently striking a flock of birds shortly after takeoff on Jan. 15 from LaGuardia airport, bound for Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

After takeoff, the New York high altitude controller center gives routine instructions to the US Airways jet, code named "Cactus" because the company is based in Arizona.

 

The following is an abbreviated exchange of communication between radar controllers and Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, both of whom misstated the call signs for the flight.

 

1549: "This is, uh, cactus Fifteen-Thirty-Nine (sic). Hit birds. We lost thrust in both engines. We're turning back towards LaGuardia."

 

FAA to LaGuardia: "It's Fifteen-Twenty-Nine (sic). He, ah, bird strike. He lost all engines. He lost the thrust in the engines. He is returning immediately."

 

FAA: "Cactus Fifteen-Twenty-Nine (sic) if we can get it to you do you want to try to land runway one three (at LaGuardia)?"

 

1549: "We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson."

 

Controllers at this point repeat runway instructions and again the US Airways crew says it cannot make LaGuardia.

 

1549: "Oh what's over to our right? Anything in New Jersey, maybe Teterboro (airport)?"

 

FAA: "Do you want to try and go to Teterboro?"

 

1549: "Yes"

 

FAA to Teterboro: "Cactus Fifteen-Twenty-Nine over the George Washington Bridge wants to go to the airport right now."

 

FAA: "You can land (at) Runway One at Teterboro."

 

1549: "We can't do it."

 

FAA: "Okay, which runway would like?"

 

1549: "We're gonna be in the Hudson."

 

FAA: "I'm sorry, say again, Cactus?"

 

Radar contact is lost seconds later and there is no response. Nevertheless, controllers continue to try and get Flight 1549 to an airport, suggesting Newark as a third alternative. Other pilots see the plane hit the water.

 

Another set of controllers asks a helicopter pilot who has spotted Flight 1549: "Is he still flying?"

 

HELICOPTER 1: "Looks like he (is) getting lower."

 

HELICOPTER 2: "Going down."

 

HELICOPTER 1: "He's in the water."

 

HELICOPTER 1: "I got him in sight right next to the USS Intrepid mid-river."

 

Date created : 2009-02-05

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