Page last updated at 02:41 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Bird strike confirmed in US crash

The cockpit flight recorder on display in New York, 18 January
The cockpit flight recorder was put on display for reporters

It has been confirmed that a collision with a flock of birds caused a US airliner to lose power and ditch in a New York river just after take-off.

Flight data recorders show the engines of the US Airways Airbus A320 cut out simultaneously, National Transport Safety Board investigators say.

The plane had only managed to reach a top altitude of 3,200ft (975m).

All 155 passengers and crew of Flight Flight 1549 survived the landing on the Hudson, which made headlines worldwide.

They were rescued by boats from the sinking aircraft - the captain was the last to leave.

The wreckage of the plane was lifted by crane from the icy waters on to a barge moored to a lower Manhattan seawall late on Saturday and is now being moved to a marina for closer inspection.

'Sound of thumps'

Kitty Higgins of the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed on Sunday that ice floes in the river were slowing the search for an engine thought to have separated from the plane when it ditched on Thursday afternoon.

911 callers describe the crash scene

But she said the "black box" data confirmed pilot testimony that the plane had collided with a flock of birds.

"About 90 seconds after take-off, the captain remarks about birds," she said, quoting the data recorder.

"One second later the cockpit voice recorder recorded the sound of thumps and rapid decrease of engine sounds. The captain acknowledges that both engines have lost power and he takes control of the aircraft."

Earlier, the plane's pilot, Capt Chesley B "Sully" Sullenberger, and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, described for the Board how they had suddenly seen "big, dark-brown birds" approaching, then registered them hitting the plane.

Capt Sullenberger took the decision to ditch the plane in the river dividing Manhattan from New Jersey.

Apart from one person whose legs were both broken, none of those aboard are reported to have sustained serious injuries.

The pilot was due to give his first TV interview about the crash on Monday but that has been cancelled at the request of the US airline pilots association.

BBC graphic
1 1526 local time (2026 GMT): Flight 1549 takes off from LaGuardia airport
2 1527 (2027 GMT): Pilot Chesley Sullenberger reports birds hitting engines
3 1528 (2028 GMT): Pilot told to land at Teterboro airfield
4 1531 (2031 GMT): Pilot ditches plane in Hudson River

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USA Today Crew of downed plane to media: Cool it - 2 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Hudson plane's engine fan failed two days before crash-landing - 3 hrs ago
Jerusalem Post 'Hero on the Hudson' to be invited to Israeli conference on bird strikes - 5 hrs ago
Boston GlobeJetliner probe will take a year - 5 hrs ago
Washington PostRecords show plane suffered previous malfunction - 5 hrs ago
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