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'We may end up in the Hudson'

February 06, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Air traffic controllers became increasingly frantic as they scrambled to find a runway for crippled US Airways Flight 1549 as it descended perilously close to Manhattan. Then came the matter-of-fact reply from the captain: "We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson."

Audio recordings released Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration reveal a tense, lightning-fast scramble as controllers tried to arrange an emergency landing before losing touch with the Airbus A320 after it ditched into the Hudson River.

The last words from Flight 1549 as it left New York's LaGuardia Airport at almost 3:26 p.m. Jan. 15 were, "Good day." One minute and 48 seconds later, the crew reported, "Hit birds, we lost thrust in both engines, we're turning back to LaGuardia."

A controller in Westbury, N.Y., told the airport: "Stop your departures, we got an emergency returning."

Flight 1549 reported back to Tracon (the Terminal Radar Approach Control facility): "We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson."

That led to a scramble to divert the plane to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

"Cactus 1549 turn right two-eight-zero" for Teterboro, said the controller, identified by the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. as Patrick Harten. Cactus is the call sign used by controllers for US Airways.

"We can't do it," the crew said.

"OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?" he asked.

"We're going to be in the Hudson," the pilot replied.

US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has told FAA investigators he glided the plane into the river rather than risk a catastrophic crash in a densely populated area. All 155 people aboard survived.

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