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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: Work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and implement innovative technologies that can be installed on aircraft that would reduce the likelihood of a bird strike.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate 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 - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that the FAA, with the USDA, continues to conduct research into innovative technologies that can be installed on aircraft to reduce the likelihood of a bird strike. As part of its comprehensive Wildlife Hazard Research and Development Program, the FAA is investigating pulsing aircraft lights and such other strategies to deter birds from the airport environment as ultraviolet light emitting diodes (LEDs), pulsing LEDs, direct energy systems, and acoustic hailing devices. We are pleased that the FAA continues to investigate whether these technologies can be applied to bird deterrent systems onboard aircraft, is engaged in industry and government research, and remains alert to promising developments in aircraft-installed technologies that demonstrate a reduction in the likelihood of bird strikes. The FAA also points out that aircraft operators and manufacturers are currently able to procure and certify pulsating light systems, and other systems that they may propose, within the framework of the FAA’s existing regulations and policies. We consider these actions to be an acceptable alternate means of addressing Safety Recommendation A 10-76. Accordingly, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.
Our last update from the FAA regarding these recommendations was its September 23, 2010, letter. We are concerned that, although more than 2 years have passed since then, we have received no additional information regarding the agency’s efforts to address Safety Recommendations A-10-71, -76, or -82. Pending our timely receipt of such an update and completion of the recommended actions, they remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to conduct research into technologies that could be installed on aircraft to reduce the likelihood of a bird strike. Recent peer-reviewed literature produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that pulsing aircraft landing lights to draw the attention of birds during flight and prompt an escape response may be a valid concept. The next step is to research variations of the lighting source to improve the efficacy relative to birds, particularly those species that are responsible for the most damage during a collision. As part of its comprehensive Wildlife Hazard Research and Development Program, the FAA also is investigating other promising technologies to deter birds from the airport environment such as Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), pulsating LEDs, directed energy systems, and acoustic hailing devices. The FAA continues to investigate whether these technologies can be applied to bird deterrent systems onboard aircraft. We will continue to be engaged in industry and government research and remain alert to promising developments in aircraft-installed technologies that demonstrate a reduction in the likelihood of bird strikes. However, at this time, we consider the basic science behind bird vision and response insufficiently developed to establish practical system performance standards or aircraft installation requirements. The FAA notes that aircraft operators and manufacturers are currently able to procure and certify pulsating light systems, or other systems that they may propose, within the framework of our existing regulations and policies. For example, Alaska Airlines is equipping aircraft in their fleet to conduct an independent in-house assessment of a pulsed landing light. The USDA is in discussions with the airline to establish a means to review Alaska Airlines' data and findings. Although research by the FAA and the USDA is ongoing, habitat management to mitigate bird hazards on and near airports, as well as requirements for airframe and engine tolerance to bird strikes, are the only substantiated methods to improve safety. As noted throughout this response, our work on this area is ongoing. However, I believe the actions described above satisfy the intent of this recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
The FAA's plan to expand long-established joint FAA-USDA research programs addressing wildlife hazards to aviation, to include a plan of action for research and development of aircraft-based technologies as a prominent component, is responsive to this recommendation. Accordingly, pending completion of these plans and funding of the associated research activities, Safety Recommendation A-10-76 is classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201000368: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: We have initiated research programs at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center that will address this recommendation. For nearly two decades, we have partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services and National Wildlife Research Center through an Interagency Agreement to conduct research related to all aspects of wildlife hazards at airports. While the majority of aircraft collisions with aircraft do occur on or near airports - that is, under 3,000 feet above ground level- the FAA/USDA research and development efforts to date have been primarily focused on: I. Habitat management - methods to reduce the attractiveness of airport habitats to hazardous species; and 2. Hazardous species control- techniques and tools for controlling those species in the event that they are already present on the airport property. We also contributed to the funding of a USDA study into the response behavior of birds to pulsating aircraft landing lights. However, the recent findings and subsequent subject recommendation expand the focus of FAA Airport Technology Research and Development research to include technologies that are installed on the aircraft. We are working with USDA to establish a plan of action for incorporating aircraft-based technologies as a prominent component of our ongoing wildlife research and development activities. Some potential aircraft-based ideas include the use of onboard weather radars to deter birds, pulsating lights, paint schemes, acoustic devices, and directed energy. We expect to start this additional research in fiscal year 2011.
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