According to a report in the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago, the US Airways Airbus encountered a “barrage” of birds. The reporter wrote:
“Investigators disclosed earlier Saturday that the pilots of US Airways Flight 1549 recounted smashing into a flock of large brown birds, which momentarily covered much of their windshield and was quickly followed by the smell of burning carcasses from the jet’s damaged engines. The pilots of the Airbus A320 told investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board that roughly a minute after lifting off from LaGuardia Airport with 155 people aboard, they ran into a flock of birds flying in formation and lost power from both engines.”
According to material posted on the FAA’s Web site, the type of engines on the US Airways jet were certified to be able to keep operating for five minutes at 75% of normal takeoff power after ingesting a total of five birds, each weighing 1.5 pounds. If a single bird weighing four pounds gets sucked into an engine, FAA standards require it to be able to shut down safely, without a fire or internal disintegration.
If the US Airways jet ran into a flock of geese, some of which can weigh twelve pounds or more, that could spell real trouble for the plane. The species of bird has yet to be determined.
The plane splashed into the frigid waters of the Hudson River about three minutes after hitting the birds.