Cranes used to raise crashed plane from Hudson River
Salvage experts worked with federal and local officials on Saturday to hoist on to a barge the United States Airways passenger jet that made a miraculous landing in the Hudson River this week.
Straps attached to giant cranes were used around the fuselage and wings of the Airbus 320, which sat in the Hudson River at Battery Park since its crash landing on Thursday afternoon several kilometres upriver.
The plane was to be towed away for examination by investigators probing the accident in which all 155 passengers and crew survived, most escaping serious injury.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said one engine was still attached to the plane, contrary to earlier reports that both engines had come apart, while the one still missing might have been located by sonar.
NTSB officials also conducted interviews with the plane’s pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, co-pilot and other crew members on Saturday.
“We could not be more happy that we got everyone off the airplane safely,” NTSB spokesperson Kitty Higgins quoted Sullenberger as saying. He praised the crew’s professionalism in handling the crash.
Higgins said Sullenberger was asked during the emergency about landing the crippled plane at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, where it had taken off from minutes earlier, or another airport, and he replied: “We can’t do it. We’re going to be in the Hudson.”
That was the last communication from the plane.
The pilot and co-pilot both spotted a flock of birds just before the emergency, and Sullenberger told investigators that he suddenly saw the plane’s windscreen filled with birds and then smelled “burning birds”, Higgins said.
Records showed a time lapse of about five minutes from take-off to impact, she said.
Crowds of onlookers turned out by the Hudson on a frigid afternoon to witness the complex operation, which was delayed several hours due to ice build-up in the river and around the plane.
People posed for pictures in the foreground of the semi-submerged plane, saying it was history and an experience they wanted to document.
The salvage operation, in which the plane was raised slowly and deliberately in order to allow for water to drain out, extended into the night.
Officials said it would continue until the plane was removed from the water and moved on to the barge.—Reuters