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US Airways 1549 — Lessons And Next Steps

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NTSB hearings that last week focused on the Jan. 15 crash of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson have generated potential actions -- from developing on-aircraft anti-bird technology to rounding up and wiping out thousands of Canada Geese. At the hearings, Airbus test pilots supported Captain Sullenberger's decision to take the flight to the river instead of trying to make LaGuardia or Teterboro. Airbus' fly by wire system was praised for allowing Sullenberger to maintain the best airspeed for the ditching simply by holding the joystick fully aft and letting the computers do the work of not stalling the aircraft while he maintained wings level. The hearings also produced a rather compelling NTSB video (see right) that mates animation with ATC audio and CVR content (as text). A board member's call for more research into onboard bird-repellant or bird-deterrent technologies is supported by at least one study, which found that aircraft equipped with pulsed landing lights suffered fewer bird strikes. That study was conducted by Qantas and Precise Flight -- a vendor for a pulse light system. Tests conducted in 2004 by the U.S. Agriculture Department were less definitive, but further research (specifically, into flash frequency and light wavelengths) may be encouraged by the NTSB. That said, New York City in a statement Friday announced a more direct approach to "remove and dispose of" some 2,000 Canada geese residing in the LaGuardia area from mid-June to August.

The city's plan, as it has been widely reported, would capture and kill local geese during the birds' summer molting season, while not making much more than a dent in the larger area's 20,000 to 25,000 resident Canada geese. While some might hope the geese carcasses could be used to magically create Jet-A for aircraft, thus killing two birds with one stone, that' still over-the-horizon technology. It's been suggested that the city's soup kitchens could also put the birds to good use, but New York has decided to dispose of the carcasses, instead, according to Newsday. Going forward, the newspaper said authorities were "also experimenting with birth control medications for the birds."

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