Plane was too low, too slow to reach airport: Hudson crash pilotJanuary 18th, 2009 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS
New York, Jan 18 (DPA) In his first statement on the Airbus crash landing on the Hudson River, captain Chesley Sullenberger told investigators the plane was “too low, too slow” to reach the next airport after its engines were hit by birds.The machine had also been too close to “too many buildings, too populated an area”, said the former US Air force pilot, who said he wanted to avoid a catastrophe last Thursday. He steered the Airbus 320 plane operated by US Airways to land in the river without breaking up, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.
The pilot was being questioned by the US National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB). NTSB spokeswoman Kathryn Higgins told journalists at a press conference late Saturday efforts to salvage the plane, now filled by water, would continue Sunday.
Experts had hoisted the machine from the river in order to rescue its blackbox. Divers were also trying to retrieve one of the two engines from the icy waters of the river.
The second engine was still attached to the machine, Higgins said, correcting earlier contrary reports.
Crew members had earlier told the investigators that both of the plane’s engines had failed after the plane had reached a level of 900 metres shortly after taking off.
Two flight attendants said they first heard a hard thump during the plane’s climb and then the engines went quiet, Higgins said.
There had been complete silence in the plane’s cabin, she said: “It was like being in a library.”
The pilot had reported a double impact of birds, she said. The investigation of the engines was to show whether one or several birds had hit and blocked the turbines.
After the crash landing, the plane that had been headed to Charlotte from La Guardia Airport was reached within minutes by several US Coast Guard vessels, ferry boats and water taxis that ply the Hudson River. They surrounded the crippled plane to rescue the passengers.