“We’re Gonna Be in the Hudson”


A first look at ATC tapes and crew interviews revealed Sunday that US Airways Flight 1549 suffered a dual engine loss a mere 90 seconds after takeoff. Quoting from the ATC transcript, the NTSB’s Kitty Higgins said at 3:27:32, the flight was instructed to turn left to 270 degrees. The crew responded: “Ah, Cactus 1549 … hit birds, we lost thrust in both engines. We’re turning back toward LaGuardia.” At 3:28:05, 33 seconds later, ATC asked if the crew wanted to return to LaGuardia. “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson,” came the reply, according to Higgins’ reading of the transcript.

“There was some discussion whether the airplane could land at Teterboro, off the airplane’s right, about six miles. And the pilot responded, “We can’t do it … we’re gonna be in the Hudson.'” That was the last communication from the aircraft.

Although it had previously been reported that the A320’s ditching switch had been activated, The Associated Press said Saturday that it appears it had not been. The ditching switch automatically closes the cabin outflow valve, avionics vents and other through-hull openings to make the cabin more watertight. The AP also reported that once the aircraft was in the water, a quick-thinking flight attendant stopped a passenger from opening one of the rear doors, which was by then below the waterline. This may have reduced flooding and given the passengers precious seconds to exit the cabin.