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Air traffic tapes of Hudson plane crash released

  • Story Highlights
  • "We may end up in the Hudson," pilot tells controllers
  • All 155 aboard survived after US Airways jetliner ditched in Hudson River
  • Jet's engines failed after plane struck birds, pilot reported
  • Bird remains found in both of plane's engines
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Minutes after he reported hitting birds and losing power in both engines, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 calmly told an air traffic controller the plane would ditch into the Hudson River.

Surveillance video shows passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 hurrying onto the plane's wings.

Surveillance video shows passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 hurrying onto the plane's wings.

"We can't do it," pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger said at 3:29 p.m. on January 15, in response to efforts to land the plane at New Jersey's Teterboro airport, according to a recording released Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We're gonna be in the Hudson," Sullenberger said, about three and a half minutes after the Airbus A320 took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

"I'm sorry, say again," said the controller, from New York Tracon, a radar facility on Long Island that handles flights after they depart from LaGuardia or Teterboro airports.. Video Listen to the pilot talk to the controllers »

There is no response.

The plane, headed from LaGuardia to Charlotte, North Carolina, ditched into the frigid Hudson River. All 155 passengers and crew members on board survived the incident.

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About two minutes before Sullenberger said the plane would end up in the river, he reported hitting birds and losing power in both engines.

"Hit birds. We lost thrust in both engines. We're turning back towards LaGuardia," Sullenberger said at 3:27 p.m., about a minute and a half after the flight took off.

A controller at New York Tracon responded to the pilot, saying "OK, yeah, you need to return to LaGuardia."

The controller then alerted LaGuardia's air traffic control tower: "Tower, stop your departures, we got an emergency returning." Read transcript of pilot's communication with controllers

Minutes later, Sullenberger said the plane might not make it back to LaGuardia. "We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson," he said.

The Tracon controller then asked the pilot if he wants to go to Teterboro airport in New Jersey. The pilot said yes, and the controller alerted air traffic control there.

At 3:29 p.m., however, Sullenberger told the Tracon controller the plane couldn't make it to that airport, and shortly afterward, the plane dropped into the Hudson.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said both the plane's engines contained the remains of birds.

The engines from Flight 1549 had been sent to the manufacturer in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the NTSB directed the analysis, the safety board said in a news release.


Material from both engines was sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington for identification of the bird species. Passenger's perspective moments after crash

The plane's flight data recorder "revealed no anomalies or malfunctions in either engine up to the point where the captain reported a bird strike, after which there was an uncommanded loss of thrust in both engines," the NTSB said.

All About Chesley SullenbergerAccidents and DisastersHudson River

All About Accidents and DisastersHudson River

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