US Airway plane bound for Charlotte makes forced landing in the Hudson River

Passengers evacuate from a US Airways plane which landed in the Hudson River Thursday afternoon. (Photo courtesy Charles Spiegel)
Passengers evacuate from a US Airways plane which landed in the Hudson River Thursday afternoon. (Photo courtesy Charles Spiegel)

By Jeff Rivenbark - email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A US Airways plane carrying 158 passengers and crew made a forced landing in New York's Hudson River Thursday afternoon.

All passengers safely escaped from the Airbus A320.  A small number of passengers suffered only minor injuries.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), flight #1549 had just departed from LaGuardia Airport around 3:03 p.m. and was en route to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The FAA says the plane went down after hitting an obstruction in the air that was possibly a flock of geese.

A passenger on the plane said shortly after the aircraft's departure from LaGuardia, he heard a loud noise.  The plane started losing altitude and eventually made a forced landing in the river.

An eyewitness who was on the ground said the plane made a slow, calm descent into the water.

Another passenger who was on the flight said the pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, skillfully landed the plane.  Officials estimate the plane was going 176 miles per hour when it made impact with the water.

Several ferry boats immediately surrounded the plane and provided assistance to the passengers and crew who were evacuating from the plane via the aircraft's emergency exit doors.

Once the passengers and crew were off the plane, the pilot exited the aircraft.

The plane continued to drift down the Hudson River for a few miles and was later secured to a nearby dock overnight.

The NTSB has been called to the scene and will begin its investigation Friday morning.

Many of the passengers on the plane were from Charlotte and in New York on business trips.  Some of them caught other flights back to Charlotte late Thursday night.  A number of them remained in New York at local hospitals to receive treatment for their injuries.

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(US Airways released the following statement Thursday afternoon.)

US Airways has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: US Airways Flight 1549 Initial Report

Date: 1/15/2009 4:23:00 PM

TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 15, 2009--US Airways (NYSE: LCC) flight 1549, an Airbus A320 en route to Charlotte from LaGuardia, has been involved in an accident in New York at       approximately 3:03 pm Eastern Time.

Airline officials are in direct contact with local, state and national authorities and are cooperating fully with emergency response efforts. US Airways' primary concern at this time is for those on board the airplane and their families.

US Airways is confirming passenger and crew on board the aircraft and will issue additional information as soon as possible. At this point, no additional details can be confirmed.

Individuals who believe they may have family members on board flight 1549 may call US Airways at 1-800-679-8215 within the United States. This number can be reached toll-free from international locations through AT&T's USADirect(R). To contact an AT&T operator, please visit http://www.usa.att.com/traveler  for USADirect(R) access codes.

US Airways will provide additional information as it becomes available. Please monitor usairways.com for the latest information. (LCCG)