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On January 15, 2009, about 1527 eastern standard time,1 US Airways flight 1549, an Airbus Industrie A320-214, N106US, experienced an almost total loss of thrust in both engines after encountering a flock of birds and was subsequently ditched on the Hudson River about 8.5 miles from LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York City, New York. The flight was en route to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charlotte, North Carolina, and had departed LGA about 2 minutes before the in-flight event occurred. The 150 passengers, including a lap-held child, and 5 crewmembers evacuated the airplane via the forward and overwing exits. One flight attendant and four passengers received serious injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The scheduled, domestic passenger flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Once the development of the engine technology has been completed, as asked for in Safety Recommendation A-10-62, require the implementation of the technology on transport-category airplane engines equipped with full-authority digital engine controls.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Weehawken, NJ, United States
Loss of Thrust in Both Engines, US Airways Flight 1549 Airbus Industrie A320-214, N106US
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
The NTSB disagrees with the FAA’s determination that the costs for developing and implementing technology capable of informing pilots about the continuing operational status of an engine currently exceeds the benefits of such technology. Because the FAA does not plan to take the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-10-62 and -63 are classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
- From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has long been involved in researching technologies capable of informing pilots about the continuing operational status of an engine. On January 8, 1989, near Kegworth, Leicestershire, England, a Boeing 737-400 suffered an engine failure and the crew accidentally shut down the wrong engine. The resulting accident served as a catalyst for a joint study with the Aerospace Industries Association and the European Association of Aerospace Industries. Follow-on FAA-sponsored research began in the area of propulsion system malfunction in combination with inappropriate crew response. Part of this research activity focused on the potential for using engine health monitoring methods to prevent inappropriate crew response. The military and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have each conducted their own research. We have followed their efforts but have been unable to directly participate because funding for co-sponsorship has been unavailable. The FAA-sponsored research, conducted through December 2008, focused on improved engine damage detection and annunciation through the use of a combination of existing sensors on a full-authority, digitally controlled engine. The research team noted the potential benefits of real-time prediction of engine operational capability or restart capability. The research team concluded there are challenges in developing a reliable and accurate health monitoring algorithm, and that this provides only modest and limited operational benefits (awareness and guidance) over existing systems. The research team also recommended that further collection of data, including detailed time-history data for engine damage events correlated with inspection findings, would be needed to develop an adequate algorithm. Engine manufacturers use similar engine health monitoring algorithms to support engine maintenance. There has been little industry interest in FAA development of standard algorithms. We believe industry would most likely use algorithms similar to those they have already developed as a basis for the new algorithms. Industry considers their existing algorithms proprietary and are not likely to share them with the public and their competitors, as would be required if we developed the technology with them. Development of the technology without the existing proprietary algorithms as a basis would require a significant investment to fund numerous night tests and subsequent data analysis. We have determined that the costs for development and implementation of technology capable of informing pilots about the continuing operational status of an engine currently exceed the benefits of such technology. I believe that the FAA has satisfactorily responded to safety recommendations A-10-62 and -63, and I consider our actions complete.
The NTSB looks forward to learning of the results of the FAA's investigation of the status and development of technology capable of informing pilots about the continuing operational status of an aircraft engine and the feasibility of implementing this technology. Pending completion of the development work, Safety Recommendation A-10-62 is classified "Open-Acceptable Response." Pending completion of the recommended action, including the establishment of a requirement to implement the resulting technology, Safety Recommendation A-10-63 is classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201000368: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: If we determine the engine technology to be practical, as discussed in recommendation A-10-62, we will develop an action plan to implement the technology on transport-category airplane engines equipped with full-authority digital engine controls.
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