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Rediff.com  » News » I landed the plane on water to avoid fatalities: US pilot

I landed the plane on water to avoid fatalities: US pilot

January 18, 2009 16:52 IST

The pilot of the US Airways jet liner, which ditched into Hudson river, had made a swift decision to land the plane on water following the engine failure due to a bird-hit as trying to reach any airport could have led to "catastrophic" consequences.

The pilot, Capt Chesley B "Sully" Sullenberger, told National Transportation Safety Board investigators on Sunday that he decided to land the plane on water as trying to reach any airport could have led to 'catastrophic consequences' if it crashed in any populated area.

All 155 passengers and crew on board survived the rare crash-landing of US Airways Flight 1549, which was in air for less than five minutes, into New York's Hudson River.

Initial reports revealed that a collision with a flock of birds, possibly Canadian geese, crippled the engines and triggered the disaster. The plane was flying at 3000 feet and at 250 miles per hour when it ran into the flock.

Sullenberger, who is being hailed as hero for saving the lives of people aboard, decided to ditch the plane in the river close to vessels 'to improve chances of recovery', NTSB board member Kitty Higgins said.

It was the first time the public heard the account givenby Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey B Skiles describing Thursday's emergency landing. But they were not present at the press conference.

The NTSB account of the pilot's testimony shows that the plane without power was flying 'too low and too slow' to be able to reach any airport and there were too many buildings in its way.

Dharam Shourie in New York
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