This afternoon US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River. As soon as I heard the news I began to think about another US Airways Flight that crashed in New York in 1992, with deadly consequences. It is truly miraculous that everyone survived the crash of Flight 1549. But now the questions begin.
Initial reports are stating that the pilot encountered a flock of geese. In aviation terms, this is known as a bird strike. The report states that the Airbus A320 hit a flock of geese and that birds were sucked into both engines, disabling them. In the coming months, here are several questions we will want answers to.
(1) We will want to know why birds were in the vicinity. Birds are a big problem at airports and airports spend considerable money scaring them away. Some airports use recorded predatory bird calls to deter them, others use hawks.
(2) We will want to know why air traffic control (or other pilots) did not alert the pilot to the birds prior to take off and whether they could have been detected by radar.
(3) We will want to know whether the birds damaged any other part of the aircraft, effecting its operation. For instance, if a bird strikes a controlled surface, like the leading edge of a wing or wings, the aircraft will lose lift or encounter asymmetric lift.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a 20 member team to investigate the crash. We will wait for their careful examination.