US Airways Plane Had Prior Mid-Flight Engine Problems

It seems that the US Airways plane that was forced to <"">crash land in New York’s Hudson River last week was no stranger to engine problems.  Newsday is reporting that the same US Airways plane experienced mid-flight engine problems two days prior to the now-famous crash.  It remains unclear if the problems were related.

NTSB investigators confirmed that both engines failed in last week’s emergency crash landing and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that recovered black box data confirmed what the pilots first said:  Birds collided with the jet causing them to make an unusual emergency landing into New York’s Hudson River, said Newsday.  According to Kitty Higgins of the NTSB, some jet fuel leaked into the marina, reported Newsday.  It remains unclear how much fuel—which leaked from the right wing tank—ended up in the Hudson and what potential problems this poses.

155 crew and passengers were aboard Flight 1549, which was heading from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Everyone on board survived the crash; however, officials report that many passengers were taken to local hospitals and makeshift emergency rooms.  Passengers described the experience as harrowing, said Newsday.  News reports describe people being pulled from the water and passengers suffering from hypothermia, and others bleeding and suffering from broken bones.

Meanwhile, on the earlier January 13th flight, one passenger told Newsday that the pilot announced that the plane’s right engine experienced a “compressor stall.”  Newsday explained that, according to aviation experts, compressor stalls are uncommon and occur when jet engine airflow is interrupted.  The earlier engine problem was discovered during the federal investigation that is expected to take at least one week.  And while experts say compressor stalls can be resoled with a throttle decrease, such problems can cause permanent engine damage, reported Newsday.  “They can vary from an extremely mild pop … to a very violent shaking of the airplane, so you can’t even see the instruments, with flames shooting out the engine and the engine can disintegrate,” said Kirk Koenig, president of Expert Aviation Consulting, quoted Newsday.

Expert Aviation Consulting, a private consulting firm with commercial airline pilots on staff, said in a statement to CNN, “EAC confirms that US Airways ship number N106US flew on January 13, 2009, and January 15, 2009, with the same flight number of AWE 1549 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte Douglas [International] Airport in North Carolina.”

Passengers described a series of loud bangs, said CNN, which added that the crew advised them that they might have to emergency land.  Passenger Steve Jeffrey told CNN that, “It sounded like the wing was just snapping off.  The red lights started going on. A little pandemonium was going on.”  Jeffrey told CNN that the engine trouble occurred over Newark, New Jersey, just after take-off and that, “It wasn’t turbulence, it wasn’t luggage bouncing around. It was just completely like the engine was thrown against the side of the plane.”  Another passenger, John Hodock, told CNN in an email that, “About 20 minutes after take-off, the plane had a series of compressor stalls on the right engine.  There were several very loud bangs and fire coming out of the engine.”  And, another passenger also described a “loud banging sound” on the right side of the plane and remembered the pilot saying that the “compressor for the engine was stalled,” reported CNN.

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