Here's [not*] what happens when a goose goes into a jet engine, as happened to US Airways Flight 1549 before it ditched in the Hudson. The video was taken during certification tests, and sent to me by a friend at the FAA.
*See comment below
Here's [not*] what happens when a goose goes into a jet engine, as happened to US Airways Flight 1549 before it ditched in the Hudson. The video was taken during certification tests, and sent to me by a friend at the FAA.
After watching the video of US Airways 1549 ditch in the Hudson, and after reading that controllers suggested they go to Teterboro, I wondered what the situation would have looked like to the pilot. So I cranked up Microsoft Flight Simulator X on my iMac (yes, Windows actually runs better on a Mac) to see what would have happened if Scully had gone to KTEB instead.
UPDATE: Also tried returning to KLGA Rwy 13. Added images below.
UPDATE: See info from Airbus pilots before the comments.
UPDATE: See what a goose does to a jet engine
UPDATE: A history of airline ditching with pictures
Reports state geese were flying at 2900'. This would imply that the A320 would have already cleaned up from its original take off flap setting (most likely config 1 which would have a small amount of flap on the trailing edge and a small amount of slat on the leading edge) to a clean configuration and acceleration to 250 kts indicated airspeed, the maximum permitted speed below 10,000' in the US.
The engines would have been in the 'climb gate' which means that the auto thrust system would be engaged with the FMGES (flight management, guidance and envelope system) computers able to automatically set thrust to whatever it requires between idle and approx 90% of the maximum continuous thrust.
The co-pilot was the pilot flying (PF) for this sector with the captain playing the pilot non-flying (PNF) support role (radios, monitoring, system selection, etc). On fly by wire (FBW) Airbuses (Airbii?) the autopilot can be engaged from the later of 100' or 5 seconds after take off but most of us like to play awhile so I don't know if it was engaged or if PF was hand flying at the time.
It would appear that on hitting the birds the power loss on both engines was instantaneous. I would expect that the flight deck would momentarily have gone dark with all the screens blank while the electrical system reconfigured itself onto battery power. During this time a small ram air turbine (RAT) would drop out from the underside of the aircraft with a freewheeling propeller that spins up to 6000ish rpm in the airflow.
Modern Airbus have 3 electrical systems referred to as the Green, Blue and Yellow systems (you can't afford to be colour blind in an Airbus!) with hydraulic dependent systems spread across these 3 providers to allow system redundancy. The engines have pumps attached that normally pressurise the 3 hydraulic systems to 3000 psi however these engines had now stopped so the RAT would supply hydraulic pressure at 2500 psi to the blue hydraulic system only. With only the blue system available the aircraft would have had both elevators but only the left aileron operational (the rudder is electric on the 320 so other redundancy caters for that). The loss of all the engine driven electrical generators would also cause the emergency generator to come on line. This is a small generator that is driven by blue system hydraulic pressure (effectively a windmill in the fluid lines) with enough output to power minimal flight instrumentation, flight control computers, FADEC's (computers governing thrust management), SFCC's (slat/flap control computers), etc, etc. The emergency generator means that the batteries can be saved for any future needs as they are only guaranteed for 30 minutes.
So at this point the aircraft has flight controls and limited electrics. There would then be the most awful buzz of aural warnings and illuminations as the aircraft then reports itself to the pilots as being unfit for use. If the autopilot was engaged it would have dropped out and as the only pilot instrumentation showing would be the captains PFD (primary flight display) and the ISIS (integrated standby instrument system) he would now become the PF while the co-pilot now became the PNF.
In normal circumstances Airbus flight guidance is unlike conventional aircraft as forward and backward movement of the sidestick does not directly control the elevators but does directly control g load demand. Lateral movement of the sidestick does not directly control the ailerons; it sends a request to the flight control computers for a desired roll rate. There are also flight envelope protections in place controlled by the flight control computers that prevent the aircraft exceeding preset pitch and bank angles, min and max speeds, min and max g loadings, etc and when all these are in place the aircraft is referred to as operating in 'Normal Law'. There are another 6 'laws' that the aircraft can fly under (alternate 1, alternate 2, flare, abnormal attitude, mechanical backup) including the reversionary mode the aircraft would have dropped into in this case, 'Direct Law'. In this mode the sidestick movement is effectively directly related to aileron and elevator movement and in effect the aircraft has downgraded itself 3 stages to handle the same as a normal aeroplane. We even have to start trimming!
The aircraft appears to have reached a max alt of 3200' before transitioning to the glide. The Captain is now handflying and will also have taken over the radios while the FO now has the job of dealing with the systems and failures. The Airbus has a system called ECAM (electronic centralised aircraft monitoring) which not only displays normal aircraft system information on 2 screens in front of the pilots in the middle of the panel but also automatically presents checklists and operation procedures during failures scenarios. The upper ECAM screen would be awash with pages and pages of procedures for him to work through however the aircraft
will prioritise the failures and put the engine relight procedures at the top of the list
The ECAM would instruct him to:
1 – Switch on the engine igniters. Jet engines operate with the 'spark plugs' normally switched off as they are a constantly burning fire unlike a piston engine. Relight
will not happen without a spark though.
2 – Return the thrust levers to idle for correct fuel delivery during start sequence.
3 – Request PF to fly at 280kts which is the optimum speed for relight. In light of the low altitude I very much doubt they would have wanted to do this. If they had they would have needed a target pitch attitude of approx 2.5 degrees nose down and assuming a weight of 70 tonnes in still air the glide would have been 2.6nm per 1000'. I suspect the captain would in fact have come back to 'green dot' speed for improved gliding range. Green dot speed is computer generated and displayed as a green dot on the speedtape on the PFD and shows you the exact speed for max lift/drag ratio for that weight in the ambient conditions in the current configuration. I would hazard a guess that on a little Airbus (minibus!?!) this would be just over 200 knots.
4 – Select the emergency generator manually on in case the system has not come on automatically.
5 – Use number 1 VHF or HF radios and Transponder as only those are powered in emergency electrical configuration.
6 – Reset number 1 Flight Augmentation Computer allowing recovery of the electrical rudder trim as the unpowered right aileron would now start to float up hampering control further.
7 – If no engine relight after 30 seconds then engine master switches off for 30 seconds to purge the combustion chambers before restarting the ignition sequence. Below FL200 the APU can be used to assist with engine starting however even if the APU had been running it would not be able to be used within 45 seconds of loss of engine driven generators to prevent interference with emergency generator coupling.
At some point the crew would then have to accept their fate that the engines are unlikely to restart and transfer to the Ditching checklist which is not on ECAM but would have to be accessed from the QRH (quick reference handbook) located to the side of each pilot.
Now the FO had a new list of jobs to perform:
1 – Prepare cabin and cockpit. Ensure cabin crew are notified and doing their thing, secure loose items in the cockpit, prepare survival equipment, tighten harness and select harness lock, etc..
2 – Switch GPWS (ground proximity warning systems) and EGPWS (enhanced GPWS) systems off so that the aircraft does not start shouting 'Too Low Gear' or 'Whoop Whoop Pull Up' at you when you are trying to concentrate on a tidy crash.
3 – Seatbelt signs on. Somehow think this one got into the checklist to appease the lawyers at the subsequent board of enquiry!
4 – Turn off cabin and galley electrical power.
5 – Select landing elevation to zero on pressurisation control panel as this would currently be set to the landing elevation at the planned arrival airfield. If the aircraft
was still pressurised on ditching it might not be possible to open the doors.
The QRH advises the crew to ditch with the gear retracted and the flaps set to the max available setting (normally called Config Full). On the A340 we can achieve Config Full as our RAT supplies the Green hydraulic system. However, looking through the A320 manuals where the RAT supplies the Blue system I can only see a capability to deploy the leading edge slats only. It would be possible to get Config Full by manually switching on the Yellow system electric hydraulic pump to pressurise the Yellow system and then via a PTU (power transfer unit) the Green system would also be powered but this is not SOP so I suspect the aircraft may have ditched with slats deployed and flaps retracted but don't take that as gospel.
At 2000'agl the FO then:
1 - Check that the cabin pressurisation mode selector is in AUTO.
2 – Switch all engine and APU bleed valves off.
3 – Switch on the overhead 'DITCHING' pushbutton. The outflow valve, the emergency ram air inlet, the avionics ventilation inlet and extract valves, the pack flow control valves and the forward cargo outlet isolation valve all close to slow the ingress of water.
1000'agl the FO then:
1 – Makes 'Cabin crew seats for landing' PA.
200'agl the FO then:
1 – Makes 'Brace for impact' PA.
At touchdown the FO then:
1 – Engine master switches off.
2 – APU master switch off.
1 – Notify ATC.
2 – Press all engine and APU fire pushbuttons to arm fire extinguisher squibs and isolate fuel, hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical couplings.
3 – Discharge all engine and APU fire extinguishers.
4 – Initiate evacuation.
I have left out a lot of the explanatory text from the QRH for brevity but you can see that this is an almighty amount of work to achieve in an ultimate pressure scenario. I have not even touched upon the proper evacuation checklist. I have also done Monsieur Airbus an injustice but drastically simplifying my explanations of the key systems in an attempt to make them more understandable but I hope it is of interest to those that made it to the end of the text!
In my company we do practice this event in the simulator for both ditching and crash on land. In fact I last did a 4 engine inop landing in the simulator just 6 months ago having simulated a departure from Tokyo followed by a volcanic ash ingestion at FL250 in the climb leading to 4 engine flame out with unsuccessful relight attempts. We ran the exercise twice and both times managed to successfully glide back to Tokyo with the only damaged being burst main wheels from hammering the brakes. We practice many, many other horrendous scenarios (such as flying the aircraft to successful airport landings with the loss of all power to the flight control surfaces) so you can see that the only subjects that we are not prepared for are the ones we haven't thought of yet.
Hats off to the entire crew for a most amazing job done brilliantly and top marks to Airbus for showing all the doubting Thomas's that they were so very wrong about the strength of the aircraft.
The Airbus in everyday operation is a wonderful aeroplane and makes the job easy, unfortunately its when things start to go wrong that it makes life difficult for you. What the description of events doesn't really convey is the time frame across which all this happens.
During the climb they would have heard a couple of large bangs as the birds were ingested and a very noticeable drop in engine note. They would have immediately looked at the engine indications on ECAM realising they have lost power from both engines, a second or two later the whole cockpit would have gone dark with some clunking noises, losing all screens and no matter how brief this is, its always scary! A second or two later just the Captain's screens would have come back and simulatneaously the autopilot would drop out with the audible cricket warning (The Airbus philoshopy is if you have a double failure 'you have control', just when you need the extrra capacity you have to fly it too) . ECAM would be going spare 'binging' away in a panic flicking through drills prioritising them, so for a short while you can't do anything as the screen keeps changing. All in a matter of seconds. If they were just over 3000' when this occured they had just over three minutes before splash down. Not long to pull yourself together, realise your not going to make the airfield ahead, decide on the river, remember the appropriate drill in the QRH, get your FO to start carrying them out and configure for a ditching.
Added to this they had a problem with the cabin crew. After any incident the flight deck will give the cabin crew a NITS brief) Nature of the problem, our intentions, the time frame to landing and any special considerations for their duties) The trouble is they had just taken off, as soon as the wheels are up the cabin crew are released for duties and whats the first thing they do? They get on the PA and try to sell you shite you dont want. So our man couldn't contact the crew or the passengers to tell them what is going on. (A good argument I think to reduce the annoying number of unneccessary sales PAs on flights) No doubt a certain amount of his last three minutes were spent trying to break through the sales crap to announce to everyone that they were making a forced landing. While flying the aeroplane and making the Mayday calls (as only his radio worked.)
Apparently the Captains CV is a thing to behold and well worth looking up, if ever there was a suitable man to be flying that plane that day it was him. There is no doubt that they both did an amazing job and I just wonder if it had been Ryan air, with a 2500 hr Captain and a 200 hour Eastern European First Officer would the outcome have been the same? I doubt it.
By Harry Hoffman
The strike mission began going bad for the Navy lieutenant when the plane ahead of his A-7 Corsair II came off-target with hung ordnance and he started getting "that old feeling." Sure enough, he soon found himself quietly drifting down through thick clouds into Laos.
More than 30 years after the event, some memories have become fuzzy while others remain crystal clear. The one recollection that remains vivid and foremost in my mind is the bravery and dedication of the men who risked their lives to save me. Consequently, this is their sea story as well as mine.
The head of our local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) is a pilot's pilot, a Marine Aviatior, and a gentleman in every respect. Occassionally he sends along items I might not have seen otherwise. He writes:
This story exists in several forms. It was immortalized by Col Jack Broughton in his landmark book about F-105 Operations called "Thud Ridge". The incredible odds facing the F-105 missions over North Vietnam and the Navy missions over North Vietnam are still marginalized by the general distaste for the Vietnam war. Someday someone will examine the military history surrounding this amazing aviation warfighting, and these true heroes will receive their due.
An interesting sidelight is the emerging conflict between the old TAC and SAC personnel. At the time SAC personnel controlled the Air Force, while TAC personnel fought the war. This was the LeMay era, when subordinates did not speak out of turn. Many frontline fighter pilots lost careers in the battle to create realistic training to prepare new pilots for the rigors of tactical aviation up north.
TAC pilots did have one spot of comraderie with SAC pilots. They all loved the tanker guys who were almost always there to help a thirsty bird home. One of the most striking passages in Broughton's narrative is his description of an F-105 flaming out due to fuel starvation while plugged into a tanker. The tankers would enter a gentle dive and allow the F-105 to accomplish a restart while accepting fuel.
Manager, San Diego FSDO
SAM Hunter-Killer Mission
By Gary Barnhill
During an F-105D combat tour out of Takhli, Thailand in 1965, Russian SAM (SA-2 Surface to Air Missiles) begun to appear in North Vietnam. Previously, we had driven over our targets unmolested at 18,000 feet to begin a dive bomb attack. The newly arrived SAM's canceled out our high altitude sanctuary and forced pilots down low, where anti-aircraft fire was intense.
We begged permission to take out the proliferating SAMs before they got to us. Request denied. Prez Lyndon Johnson feared it might hurt the Russians' feelings since they provided the SAMs to North Viet Nam.
One day our base commander, a colonel who did not fly combat missions, bravely announced: "We" are going after the SAM’s. Captain Mike Cooper, showing more guts than tact, called out from the back of the room, "What's this 'we' crap, Colonel, are you going along in the F105F two-seater. Getting shot at everyday tends to loosen up one's military decorum.
Navy LtCmdr Powers landed his A4E at Takhli carrying his own 500 lb bombs. Powers was the XO of the USS Oriskany's VA-164 squadron. The Navy had sent their very best. Powers knew this was a big time White House directed mission, and dangerous.
Takhli scheduled two outstanding Flight Commanders. Mike Cooper would lead a flight of four Thuds from the 334th TFS, with mates: Jim Butler, John Stell and Lee Adams. Gayle Williams would lead four from the 562nd: Gary Barnhill and two others whose names escape me. Each Thud would carry 8x750 lb. bombs. This was in the days before "smart" and "dumb" bombs.
This joint Navy/Air Force mission briefing was more like a focus group. Powers wanted to fly across the target level at 50 feet and skip bomb it. We preferred to dive bomb, using a pop-up from the deck to create a dive bomb run. That made it tougher for the ground gunners to track us. No sweat, since Power's would be first across the target and out of the way, his flat pass would not conflict with our dive-bombing.
These were called "Dooms Day missions", because invariably someone got shot down from the heavy defenses around Hanoi. Did guys shy away from these missions? Are you kidding? Your best friend would lie, cheat and screw you to get your slot on a Dooms Day mission.
Power's plane had a magic black box, well, what passed for magic, circa 1965. Actually it was similar to the old coffee grinder ADF (Direction Finder). A needle would point in the general direction of a SAM site, when and if the SAM was in the SEARCH mode. Operator skill required.
We launched, joined up, refueled and headed North only to find a solid overcast at the let down point. It was a No-Go. Or was it? Power's pulled the Thuds into a tight nine-ship "V" formation and descended into cloud. No one would have criticized him one bit if he canceled for weather and returned to base. He pressed on.
Nearing the target, we finally broke out of cloud and went to the deck. No longer a "formation", now just a gaggle of bomb-laden Thuds strung out in loose single file. At one point, there were hills on both sides and overcast above making a sort of tunnel. I got slung into cloud during a turn and immediately punched the nose down desperately hoping for valley beneath and not hillside. I remember thinking; I'm NOT going to miss this (mission) for anything. I flew so low over a guy driving a farm tractor that he leapt to the ground. He was doin' about two knots, we were doin' 550. When they are shooting at you: Low is good...Fast is good.
My plane was hit by small arms fire causing some yellow caution lights to glow, as we screamed low level towards the target.
The Thud was well built. Once, when all Thuds were grounded do to several inexplicably blowing up, someone suggested giving them to the Army for use as tank crushers. Taxi a Thud over a tank and collapse the gear...crushing the tank. Another joke suggested painting Thuds yellow and using them for ground power units. Rumor was: Republic was going to make the Thud out of cement, but they found out steel was heavier.
We didn't know the SAM's exact location, but hoped the Navy's magic black box could point the way. We were the goats, tethered to lure the lion out into the open for the kill. Until that day, it was a big deal when just one or two SAMs were launched. Now they were firing SAMs like artillery. Fifteen is the number I remember. It's what they mean by: "All Hell's Broken Loose".
Powers calmly transmitted; "I've got 'em on my nose...starting my run". He flew directly over the target at tree top level and was literally disintegrated by withering ground fire.
My turn. I lit the burner and popped up to about 7500 feet, Power's emergency locater beacon screeching in my headset. As the nose came up, I clearly remember saying aloud to myself, "Oh crap, I don't want to do this".
During that brief dive bomb run, which seemed an eternity, there was a sharp knocking sound, like a fist on a door; it was enemy ground fire hitting the plane. I instinctively shouted into my oxygen mask: "Stop It. Stop It".
Years later, a VA shrink would explain that utterance was related to the trauma of a severe belt whipping when I was ten. Got my feet wet in the snow on the way home from school. My Dad held me tightly by the wrist beat my buns and legs with a leather belt. Shrink said I had no evidence at age 10, or on the bomb run that either event was survivable. In both cases, my mind thought I would die. It both cases, I pleaded hopelessly: "Stop It. Stop It".
The anti-aircraft hits caused multiple red and yellow emergency lights to blink incessantly, I transmitted my intention to get to the water off Haiphong before ejecting. Radio chatter was understandably chaotic. Each Thud pilot was individually living his own Hell, jinking violently to get away from the unrelenting ground fire.
Alone and doing 810 knots on the deck (that's right, Buddy, 810 knots) I slowly overtook a Navy F-8 Crusader as if passing a car on the freeway. We exchanged gentle pathetic waves as if to say: "Oh, Hi there, don't know you, but hope you're having a nice day?" I swear it was the most surreal moment of my life.
Still on the deck, but now over the safety of Gulf of Tonkin water, a sort of euphoric invincibility set in. If I ejected over the water, the Navy would surely pick me up.
But the fire warning light had gone out, so I strafed a couple of boats capable of capturing downed pilots. The Vulcan fired six thousand rounds a minute. That's one round of 20 millimeter every 37 inches, literally a stream of lead. It sounded more like a Hoover than a machine gun.
Decided there was no reason to jump out if this bird was still running. Did that last month and it scared the crap out of me. On the radio now, with precious little fuel remaining I was begging for a tanker. Made radio contact with a KC-135 somewhere in cyberspace. Following a terse debate challenging HIS priorities, we got together with barely any fuel reading on my gauge.
Made it back to Takhli. Gear, flap and flight control problems but landed in one piece.
Had hits all over the plane, except the extremely vulnerable underbelly engine area. It required 4,000 man-hours of work just to ferry it somewhere else for repair.
I pleaded with the base commander to award Power's the Air Force Cross. He didn't like the idea. Reminded me that the Navy had their own Navy Cross and handled their own decorations. I pushed my point as if we were equals. Don't you get it; the USS Oriskany lost their top guy while USAF gets a big headline back home. Power's brilliant leadership was why the mission succeeded! Give the NAVY guy the AIR FORCE CROSS! The colonel wasn't a fighter pilot. He didn't get it.
General George Simler flew in from headquarters to have a beer with the guys on the mission. Sitting at the sorry-no-ice-today, O'Club bar, Simler and I were hangar flying like two young cadets. He was that kind of General.
I passionately pitched Simler on awarding the Air Force Cross to Powers. He loved it, instantly. Turned and said dismissively to the Base Commander: "take care of that, Colonel".
Navy LtCmdr Powers received the Navy Cross. Posthumously.
An old man who served in WWII told his grandson, "I was never a hero, but I served with many who were." That's how I feel. The most remarkable characters in my life were the heroes I was honored to fly with in 1965. They didn't all come home. Nam was not a very glamorous or patriotic war, but every fighter pilot I knew put his life on the line as if it were.