Crew of downed plane in Hudson River receive New York City's keys
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented Monday the keys to the city to the five-member crew of US Airways Flight 1549 that crashed in the Hudson River last month without endangering the lives of the 150 passengers, dpa reported.
Bloomberg presented the keys at a City Hall ceremony, calling the crew "five real American heroes."
"That day could have been one of our most tragic, but became one of our most triumphant," Bloomberg said.
The Airbus 320 craft, which was en route to Charlotte, North Carolina, crashed in the icy river on January 15 minutes after takeoff from New York's La Guardia Airport after its two engines were disabled by a flock of birds.
The plane's captain, pilot Chesley Sullenberger, said ditching the plane in the river was the only alternative he had after quickly debating all options available to him. He was a former US Air Force pilot.
"While landing I was intensely focused on the elements I knew were essential," he said. "I needed to keep the wings exactly level at touchdown, I needed to make the rate of descent survivable, I needed to touchdown with the nose up at altitude, I needed to touchdown at just above our minimum flying speed. With all of these, of course, occurring simultaneously."
Sullenberger said various other factions had to be considered in this kind of emergency landing, including the bank angle of the plane and the weight.
Monday's ceremony at City Hall culminated a weekend of visits to New York City during which the five crew members and US Airways officials met with some of the 150 passengers who survived the crash and toured the city.
The US Federal Aviation Administration released the tapes of cockpit recordings last week, revealing the conversation between Sullenberger and local traffic controllers who were trying to talk him down to an airport landing.
"We're going to be in the Hudson," Sullenberger said. "We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson."
The plane crashed in the Hudson minutes after takeoff and floated without breaking up. The passengers were able to escape through openings in the fuselage, half of which floated above the icy water.
Hudson River boats hurried to the accident site and started loading off passengers even before rescue boats arrived.
The National Transportation Safety Board said last week bird remains were found in both engines during an examination at the manufacturer in Cincinnati, Ohio, and will be examined to determine what species of bird was involved.
There were no anomalies or malfunctions in the engines before the pilot reported striking a bird and both engines stopped working.