A US Airways Airbus A320 carrying 150 passengers and five crew on board ditched into New York’s Hudson River late this afternoon and initial reports indicate that all the occupants escaped with their lives. Flight 1549 had taken off moments earlier from New York La Guardia Airport for a flight to Charlotte, N.C., when the A320 descended into the 35-degree F water near Manhattan’s 57th Street.
For those who operate aircraft over water, knowing how to ditch is an important safety issue. So is having the right equipment. Eastern Aero Marine, based in Miami, claims 15 lives have been saved in three aircraft ditchings in the past six months after crew and passengers used its inflatable survival gear products.
The emotional roller coaster created by September 11 has forced many companies to completely rethink their international travel options. These new travel strategies have translated into a significant increase in business aviation flying hours outside the U.S.
PIPER PA-31-350, HOLLYWOOD, FLA., JAN. 1, 2002–One passenger died and four others were seriously injured when the pilot was forced to ditch into the Atlantic Ocean after declaring a minimum fuel condition to Miami Center. The flight was en route from North Eleuthera Island to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). As the pilot received a handoff to the FLL tower, he declared an emergency.
Grand Aire, a Toledo, Ohio-based air-taxi company, continues to reside under a black cloud as it experienced its fifth and sixth accidents since the beginning of 2000, including one previous fatal accident. The two most recent accidents, both involving Dassault Falcon 20s on April 8, killed three pilots in one crash and seriously injured two in a second accident.
The NTSB wants the FAA to emphasize the need for pilots, particularly those in single-pilot Part 135 operations, to provide “timely emergency briefings.” The Safety Board’s recommendation follows its investigation into the July 13, 2003, fatal ditching of a scheduled Part 135 Cessna 402 in the water off the Bahamas after one engine failed at 3,500 feet msl.
The FAA has given its 2004 Excellence in Aviation Research Award to the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) for publishing a manual on ditching for corporate, fractional, on-demand and commuter operators.
DASSAULT FALCON 20, ST. LOUIS, MO., APRIL 8, 2003–At 6:50 p.m. CDT Falcon N179GA, operated by Grand Aire Express, was destroyed when it ditched into the Mississippi River near St. Louis. The airplane was approaching Runway 30R at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) when it lost power to both engines. The Part 135 cargo flight was operating on an IFR flight plan in IMC.
“One last thing. Delay taking your breath until the water reaches your waist, then follow the procedure the way we briefed,” said Survival Systems training coordinator Bobbi Lytle as we hung by a cable above the water in a big, blue “pretend” aircraft. I was strapped in the front seat with a four-point harness. At the command, “Ditching! Ditching!
In response to requests from corporate aviation managers, the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) has compiled “Waterproof Flight Operations,” the current 664-page issue of Flight Safety Digest, which it says contains information that has not been readily available for corporate, fractional, on-demand and commuter operators.