Thursday, January 15, 2009

When you have time to spare...

...Go by air. I've never been fond of US Air. When I traveled often for work, their service out of Philly and Charlotte and Pittsburgh was ALWAYS surly, discourteous, low budget. It was not US Air's fault that a flock of geese were flying at the same altitude near take off from LaGuardia, and it WAS remarkable that the pilot "gently" landed the plane in the 40 degree F Hudson River - stall speed of a Airbus 320 is about 113 knots, without rupturing fuel tanks, shearing off wings, or injuring passengers. Kudos to Californian pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (UC Berkeley air-safety researchers collaborating liberal!) for his awesome grace under pressure. Experience Does matter.


  1. This was absolutely amazing. And the fact that ferries and other random boats were three within 30 seconds goes a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity.

    That section of the Hudson, just west of midtown Manhattan, has got to have a camera or two pointed at it permanently. I bet we start to see video of the ditching come out in the next day or two.

  2. And kudos to the flight attendents for getting everyone off safely. No simple feat on a plane half-submerged in freezing cold water and packed to the gills with shocked passengers.

  3. The engines were most likely CFM 56s.

    Pilots LOVE CFMs. They are like tanks (Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I - not crappy Shermans). The P&W engines you have to be careful about throttling too fast, and ramp up times. The CFMs, I have been told by experienced pilots, you can ram the throttles full forward at take off, and not worry about a 5 or 10 or 30 second warm-up time to stabilize the rotor and combustor dynamics. GE actually encourages such harsh throttling on the fleets for which they do contract maintenance (as it cycles the engine more quickly with a higher mission severity, and leads to higher profit margins for repair).

    Once they find the lost engines, it'll be interesting to see what kind of FOD a 6 pound Canadian Goose (unfrozen, live and on the wing) can do. NPR had a story on "scrag" today - residual bird entrails that the Smithsonian studies from 100s of bird strikes each year, to determine species of the deceased fowl.

    Scrag is also a cool Scrabble word - which I find myself playing online quite often now here:


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