US Airways Fight 1549 Crash Flight Path
Here's a flight path map from the miraculous crash/water-landing of US Airways Flight 1549 we threw together using automated latitude / longitude, altitude, and airspeed tracking data from flightaware.com. We mapped the GPS coordinates onto Google maps, then drew in the approximate path and added the labels.
A couple of interesting things here:
1. It appears the engine trouble occurred between 3:27 pm and 3:28 pm over the Bronx Zoo, where the aircraft, which had been climbing steadily out of LGA to 3,200 feet, suddenly descends to 2,000 feet while still accelerating slightly from 194 knots to 202 knots.
2. The flight path curved inland over the northernmost part of Manhattan - as far East as Harlem River Drive - before the plane curved right to center perfectly over the Hudson. The FAA is reporting that controllers originally suggested a landing at Teterboro Airport in NJ. Maybe the left turn was a momentary adjustment for a Teterboro approach, before the pilot realized that a water landing was the only option?
3. The plane actualy GAINS 100 ft of altitude, from 1,200 to 1,300 feet, one to two minutes after the descent began, while the pilot was centering on the Hudson. News reports are suggesting that all engines were out. Could the plane pull up 100 ft using flaps alone? The altitude data from Flightaware is rounded to 100 feet, so is it possible that the plane was right around 1,250 feet could be explained by rounding errors?
The shared Google Map with points plotted is here. And the Flightaware data is here.
UPDATE Jan 16, 10am: What's up with the "ditch switch"?
Last evening CNN reported that perhaps the plane stayed afloat in the river for so long at least partly because the Airbus A320 is equipped with a "ditch switch" - a cockpit control that when activated, seals all ports and openings on the lower fuselage, so that once the aircraft enters the water, it doesn't take on water as quickly as it would normally (via vents, drains, etc).
Not much coverage of the ditch switch this morning either online nor on cable news. Found this 2002 discussion on an aviation forum you might find interesting.
The moderator on nycaviation.com's discussion board says the Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft also have a "ditch switch".
UPDATE Jan 16, 12 Noon: Anyone have info on where the A320 will be barged to?
- A salvage dock in Bayonne, NJ - just across NY Harbor? Lots of mechanical equipment, and easy to secure from the press and public.
- Floyd Bennett Field in South Brooklyn? Floyd Bennett Field is a huge, mostly-disused old airfield that served NYC before JFK rose to prominence. Accessible by sea. The wreckage of AA Flight 587 was temporarily examined there in 2001, although that location is much closer to the 587 crash site.
- Hangar 19 at JFK Airport? - The Concorde currently on display at the Intrepid Museum was decommissioned here a few years back. Accessible by water. LGA is also reachable via New York's inland waterways, but is a much smaller airport with fewer maintenance hangars.
Anyone have other ideas or better info?
UPDATE Jan 17, 12 Noon:
Pretty sure the 'undisclosed location' the plane will be taken to is a Bayonne, NJ shipyard owned by Weeks Marine - the contractor with the crane and barge working to hoist the plane out of the Hudson. Found a Twitter feed from one of Weeks' employees, with pictures and reports from the site, including this one:
Guessing the NTSB inspection will take place at one of these shipyards:
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Update Jan 17th, 5 pm: Salvage effort encounters snags, plane completely submerged - see post here