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NTSB: River landing right choice

Passengers stand on the wings of a U.S. Airways plane after it landed in the Hudson River in New York, Jan. 15, 2009. (By Brendan McDermid/Reuters).

Accident docket & Web cast | Video of landing |

A federal safety panel says the pilot made the right choice to ditch US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River last year, even though he could have made it back to New York's LaGuardia Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board is releasing documents Tuesday related to the incident as it tries to draw safety lessons.

The NTB is meeting today at its L'Enfant Plaza headquarters to determine the probable cause of the accident and consider recommendations to reduce future occurrences.

The documents show that if pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger had immediately attempted to return to LaGuardia after ingesting geese into both engines the Airbus A320 would have made it -- barely. That scenario would have required Sullenberger to make an immediate decision with little or no time to assess the situation. The documents say Sullenberger would have had no way of knowing that he would be successful, and therefore would have been risking the possibility of a catastrophic crash in a densely populated area.

The 155 people aboard the plane survived. Five people suffered serious injuries.

-- Staff and wire reports

By Michael Bolden  |  May 4, 2010; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Transportation Politics  
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The important thing to remember is that, like all pilots, Sullenberger was trained specifically NOT to return to the airport in the event of engine failure. For more of an explanation, see

Posted by: jeffwiseNYC | May 4, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

As a pilot myself, Jeff is correct that the return to airport attempt is often a losing proposition. With small aircrft, you might be able to put it down safely in a field, on a road, etc. But with a passenger jet, that isn't terribly likely. So, he could have made it. Great. But, if airspeed wasn't right or there were any unforseen problems, he could have come up short and there's a lot of populated territory between the NY/NJ border and Queens.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 4, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: NationwideLimoService | May 4, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

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