Today the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) meets to consider the lessons learned from that fateful day and how to prevent such an event from recurring and further endangering passengers and crew.
It's a troubling issue, according to an Associated Press (AP) report released yesterday. It is often said that commercial air travel is far safer than driving on the nation's roads (especially in view of cell phones, texting and GPS systems that distract drivers), but bird strikes have become a troubling problem.
The fate of US Airways Flight 1549 was sealed shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, when the plane flew into a flock of migrating Canada geese. The birds were sucked into both engines, completely knocking out their power. Without engines, Sullenberger had to make split-second decisions as to how best to land the doomed plane without loss of life.
It will go down in history that he, along with First Officer Jeffrey Skiles and the rest of his crew, made the right decisions. History will also show the havoc a bird the size of a Canada goose can wreak on a commercial airplane.
The jet engines on the Airbus A320 are designed to withstand a bird strike with fowl weighing up to four pounds. Recent advances in jet engine design have resulted in engines capable of withstanding a collision with a bird weighing up to eight pounds. What troubles the NTSB, according to the AP report, is that a Canada goose weighs almost twice what even the newest jet engines are designed to withstand.
"They've got to deal with the certification standards for these engines based on the size of these birds," said former NTSB board member Kitty Higgins.
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The NTSB is also looking into the damage suffered by the Airbus A320 in the water landing. A rupture towards the rear of the plane that sent water gushing into the passenger cabin also prevented the deployment of rear escape slides. While water landings are unusual, the NTSB is considering the possibility of recommending simulator training for pilots involving water landings in an effort to minimize damage, injury and loss of life when a plane has to be ditched in the water.