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Sat, Jan 17, 2009

NTSB: Right Engine Remains Attached To Hudson River A320 Wing

NYC Releases Video Images Of Water Landing

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 01.17.09 1245 EST: Blame it on the water. Investigators said Saturday morning the right engine is still atttached to the US Airways A320 that ditched Thursday afternoon in New York's Hudson River... contradicting earlier statements both turbofan nacelles were sheared off the plane as it impacted the water.

Officials blamed the dark Hudson River -- which is not known for its pristine clarity -- for obscuring their ability to determine whether the engine was still attached. Witnesses and armchair investigators worldwide had theorized the engine was still attached, though, as the Airbus sits right-wing-heavy in the water.

As salvage crews work to lift the largely intact airliner from its berth alongside the Battery Park Esplanade, on Saturday New York City officials released several new video captures taken by security cameras, that show the A320 as it glided down to its water landing. The images (screengrabs above and below) show the airliner coming in at a shallow approach angle, and skidding across the water briefly before coming to a stop.

Within 60 seconds, the first passengers begin climbing from the stricken airliner, awaiting rescue on the plane's wings. First responder boats, including a NY Waterways ferry, are on scene within three minutes.

We've said it before and we'll say it again... simply an amazing story.

Original Report

0001 EST: How do you lift a mostly-intact narrowbody airliner out of the Hudson River? That's a question salvage operators in New York might have gone their entire lives without pondering, until Thursday's downing of US Airways Flight 1549.

To answer that question, CBS News reports, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have called in a large crane to lift the Airbus A320 from the water, and onto a barge. That operation is scheduled to take place Saturday morning.

"We want to get the plane recovered as soon as possible but we want to do it a safe way," NTSB spokeswoman Kitty Higgins said.

Until then, the plane remains tied against the wall of the Battery Park Esplanade, with most of the fuselage still under the surface of the brackish water. That hampered divers' efforts Friday to recover the aircraft's flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the tail of the stricken plane.

As ANN reported Thursday, 1549 had just departed New York LaGuardia airport bound for Charlotte, NC when an apparent encounter with a flock of birds disabled both of the airliner's turbofan engines.

The plane's flight crew -- Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III (below), and first officer Jeffrey Skiles -- were able to bring the disabled plane in for a textbook ditching on the river. All 150 passengers and five crewmembers onboard were able to evacuate the plane, and were picked up by a flotilla of water taxis and river patrol vessels in the area.

Officials haven't confirmed a bird strike downed Flight 1549... though there appear to be few other possible explanations. Various media reports state Sullenberger himself reported a possible bird strike in his initial Mayday call to ATC.

Investigators won't be able to say for certain until they examine the plane's engines for signs of ingestion... but, alas, that too may be difficult to do. Both engine nacelles reportedly sheared off from the wings -- most likely due to impact forces, though it's possible they detached from the plane as boats attempted to steady the airliner in the water -- and are now nestled in the muck at the bottom of the river.

"If in fact there was any kind of damage as a result of birds being ingested, my understanding is that will show up -- the forensics will help tell us that -- so, it's a very important piece of the puzzle," said Higgins.

While investigators spent Friday sizing up their tasks ahead, many passengers were recounting their tales to anyone willing to listen... and media outlets were quite happy to oblige.

"It's still pretty surreal. It's amazing to be sitting here," said passenger Bill Elkin, who was seated near the back of the plane.

Mark P. Hood, who was flying home to Charlotte, recounted "everyone was holding their breath, making their peace, saying their prayers... When we hit the water, as soon as we hit I realized we'd survived. I grabbed (the passenger sitting next to him) and said, 'We made it. We made it."'

"We had a miracle on 34th Street. I believe now we have had a miracle on the Hudson," said New York Governor David Paterson in a press conference Thursday night. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sullenberger and Skiles -- as well as flight attendants Donna Dent, Doreen Welsh, and Sheila Dail -- will be presented with keys to the city for their efforts.

Sullenberger's wife, Lorrie, told reporters outside their home her husband thought all the attention was "a little weird."

(Incident images courtesy of Gregory Lam)

FMI: www.usairways.com, http://safetyreliability.com/

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