NEW YORK – A jetliner that crash-landed in the Hudson River had lost power simultaneously in both engines after reaching an altitude of only 3,200 feet, the plane’s black box recorders revealed Sunday.
The details that emerged confirmed the harrowing circumstances under which the pilot of the US Airways flight carrying 155 people maneuvered the plane over New York City and safely into the water after striking a flock of birds Thursday afternoon.
“The captain makes radio call to ATC (air traffic control) calling mayday and reports that they hit birds, lost both engines and were returning to LaGuardia” airport, said Kitty Higgins, a National Transportation Safety Board member, releasing cockpit transmissions captured on flight data and voice recorders.
The wreckage of the Airbus A320 was being moved by barge Sunday night to New Jersey, where investigators planned to inspect the extent of the damage more closely. The search for the plane’s missing left engine is suspended until Tuesday because ice floes in the river make it too dangerous to put divers or equipment in the water, Higgins said.
She praised the flight crew, led by US Airways Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, who spoke to NTSB investigators Saturday.
“Miracles happen because a lot of everyday things happen for years and years and years,” she said. “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobody lost their life.”
Sullenberger had been scheduled to give his first public interview this morning to NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer, but the appearance was canceled Sunday at the request of the U.S. Airline Pilots Association.
Association President Stephen Bradford said he asked Sullenberger not to engage in any media activities because the association has “interested party” status with the NTSB, which allows it to participate in the investigation.
Sullenberger released a statement deferring to the advice. “The Sullenbergers continue to thank their many well-wishers for the incredible outpouring of support,” the statement said.
The mayor of his hometown, Danville, Calif., said the pilot and his family were attending President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.