The Smithsonian Institution has identified the bird remains found in both engines of the US Airways A320 that ditched into the Hudson River on January 15 as those of Canada Geese. The Smithsonian’s feather identification lab has so far examined 25 samples of bird remains and reached its conclusion through DNA analysis and through morphological comparisons with specimens in the museum’s collections. It plans to perform more analysis on samples received from the NTSB in an attempt to determine whether the birds were resident or migratory.
While investigators do not yet know how many birds the aircraft struck or how many the engines ingested, an adult Canada Goose typically ranges in weight from 5.8 to 10.7 pounds, although larger individual resident birds can exceed published records. The bird-ingestion standard in effect when the airplane’s CFM56-5B/9 turbofans gained certification required that the engines withstand ingestion of a four-pound bird without catching fire, releasing hazardous fragments through the engine case, generating loads high enough to compromise structural components or losing the ability to shut down. The certification standard does not require that the engine generate thrust after ingesting a bird four pounds or heavier.