Fri, February 06, 2009
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Tapes reveal plane crash drama

2009-02-06 08:28:56 GMT2009-02-06 16:28:56 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

The Federal Aviation Administration released audio recordings that reveal the communications between air traffic control and US Airways flight 1549

The audio recordings reveal the calm demeanor of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, who immediately knew he had a serious problem when his plane apparently hit a flock of birds after take-off. Jon Decker reports.


Three weeks after a U.S. Airways flight was forced to land in New York's Hudson river just after take-off, the government has released audio recordings of what was happening inside the cockpit as the emergency began to unfold for the plane known as Cactus 1549.

SOUNDBITE: Captain Chesley Sullenburger saying (English):

"This is Cactus 1549 hit birds, lost thrust on both engines, turning back to La Guardia."

It was at that moment that Captain Chesley Sullenberger immediately knew he had a serious problem.

SOUNDBITE: Captain Chesley Sullenburger saying (English):

"Bird strike - he lost both engines. He's returning immediately."

"Cactus 1543, which engines?"

"He lost both engines, he said"

Hearing that news, air traffic controllers cleared runways at La Guardia, Newark, and nearby Teterboro airports.

SOUNDBITE: Captain Chesley Sullenburger saying (English):

"I'm not sure if we can make any runway. "We can't do it. Which other runway do you want at teterboro? We're going to be in the Hudson."

And as Sullenberger ditched in the Hudson River, other pilots saw the emergency landing unfold.

SOUNDBITE: Unidentified pilot saying (English):

"He's on the Hudson river. He's just about a mile and a half north of the Lincoln tunnel. Last sighted below 900 feet. We still got a target on him, but he looks like he's low level."

And as the jet splashed down, teams on the ground took over, with a water rescue ending an amazing story of quick thinking and survival by the crew of US Airways flight 1549.

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