Hudson plane crash, US Airways Flight 1549, Hudson crash same plane two days earlier
Edouard H.R.Gluck, Pool/AP
A crane moves US Airways flight 1549 from its makeshift mooring along a seawall in lower
Manhattan in New York to a barge late Saturday evening, Jan. 17,

Plane From Hudson Crash Comes Under Microscope

January 20, 2009 03:02 PM
by Josh Katz
Reports that the Miracle on the Hudson plane experienced problems during a flight two days earlier has shifted attention to the Airbus plane.

Plane From Hudson Crash Also in Earlier Problematic Flight

CNN reports that the same plane that crashed into the Hudson River last week also experienced problems on a flight two days earlier. US Airways Flight 1549 was making the same trip from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, N.C., when the flight crew said the plane had to make an emergency landing, passengers on the flight said. The flight continued on to Charlotte, however, with the problem allegedly taken care of.

The news about the engine problems from the Jan. 13 flight came “as nine teams of federal investigators began dismantling the Airbus yesterday and inspecting it from top to bottom at a large marina in Jersey City,” according to Newsday. Officials claim that the inspection should last at least a week. 

Steve Jeffrey of Charlotte, N.C., told CNN that about 20 minutes into the flight, when the plane was over Newark, N.J., "it sounded like the wing was just snapping off." According to Jeffrey, "We started looking at each other. The stewardesses started running around. They made an announcement that 'everyone heard the noise, we're going to turn around and head back to LaGuardia and check out what happened.'”

Another passenger, John Hodock, reported a similar experience, telling CNN that the pilot “got on the intercom and said they were going to have to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport. But then, only five to 10 minutes later, the pilot came back on and said it was a stalled compressor and they were going to continue to Charlotte."

A private consulting firm in Indianapolis called Expert Aviation Consulting said that the plane that ditched in the Hudson was, in fact, the same plane that Hodock and Jeffrey had boarded. However, US Airways would not confirm that the two planes were the same. Also, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudsen said that their investigation into the Hudson plane crash has not yet revealed any malfunctions in the aircraft; it still appears that the bird strike is at fault.

Knudson did say that, "An entry in the aircraft's maintenance log ... indicates [that] a compressor stall occurred on January 13.” The compressor brings air into the engine, according to The Guardian. 

Airbus garnered attention for a crash in 2001 as well. In November 2001, American Airlines flight 587 crashed in Rockaway, Queens. All 265 passengers died in the crash. The cause remains in dispute, but pilot error was generally cited as a possible cause. But a September 2002 article in Vanity Fair magazine by David Rose suggested that the plane, an Airbus A300-600, was at fault.

Howard Schwach of The Wave, a Rockaway newspaper, wrote: “Rose, after months of investigation and interviews, believes that the crash is due to a combination of a defective empennage (tail) and a computerized control system gone bad.” Schwach went on to say: “Should the public understand that an entire class of aircraft is somehow flawed, the already slow airline industry could easily come to a halt.”

Background: US Airways plane crash-lands in Hudson; all passengers rescued

US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport around 3 p.m. Jan. 15 and was airborne for about six minutes when the flight crew ran into problems as the plane approached a flock of geese, reported WNBC’s Tim Minton. Upon hitting the bird, the plane lost both engines, according to report.

“A 4-pound bird exerts more than 6 tons of force if hit by a plane traveling 200 mph—some geese weigh up to 15 pounds,” wrote WNBC.

The plane landed in the Hudson River near the USS Intrepid between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan. All on board were safely rescued, although the passengers and flight crew had to contend with frigid waters. Temperatures in New York were in the high teens to low 20s Fahrenheit.

This was the first water landing in U.S. commercial aviation history.

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