'Sully' Was Right to Ditch Jet Into Hudson River

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On Tuesday a federal panel said hero Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger made the right choice by ditching US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River last year, although it would have been possible for the plane to land at LaGuardia Airport.

The National Transportation Safety board released documents that claimed if Sullenberger had immediately attempted to return to the Queens airport after a flock of birds were ingested into both engines, the Airbus A320 would have made it -- however, barely with enough time. Officials say the situation would have required Sullenberger to think quickly with little or no time to assess the situation.

In addition, the documents revealed Capt. Sullenberger wouldn't have any concrete knowledge in knowing the plane would have landed safely and could have caused a catastrophic crash in a largely populated area.

"Although an emergency return to La Guardia Runway 13 was technically feasible from an aircraft flight performance point of view, the emergency landing on the Hudson seems the most appropriate decision," Airbus said in an assessment submitted to the panel.

Capt. Sullenberger made a conscious decision in January 2009 to make an emergency landing in the Hudson river, after the aircraft quickly began losing power after hitting a flock of geese. All 155 passengers and crew aboard managed to escape safely, even as the plane flooded due to a large fracture in the rear of the aircraft.

Federal officials on Tuesday urged U.S. and European regulators to make sweeping changes in how jet engines are designed and tested to withstand collisions with birds. In addition, other recommendations include keeping life vests on board, even when flights do not have to cross bodies of water. The FAA has reportedly shot that idea down in the past because of the excessive costs it would make the airlines.

The safety board is expected to recommend new safety standards that take into account the high impact forces after landing in water with both engines out.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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