The Hudson River tapes

The Federal Aviation Administration released the various tower tapes surrounding last month’s ditching of a US Airways flight in the Hudson River. There were many conversations going on at once. I merged a few of them into a (mostly) real-time presentation.

  • What a great collage of photos and audio… the traffic controllers are just amazing! Really amazing.

  • Bob Collins

    Yeah, they sure are. I don’t know how they do. One thing that interested me here is they kept assigning SPECIFIC runways as options rather than — as in the Sioux City crash many years ago — just saying “you’re cleared for any runway”

    At one point, he cleared him for “left traffic” at LaGuardia. That means, he was telling him to fly a standard pattern…. meaning parallel the runway in the opposite direction, turn a few miles out… and then approach the runway.

    So he didn’t really “get” the entire situation… that there was no possible way a jet without engines waas going to be able to do anything but head for the nearest runway and land straight in.

  • tiredboomer

    A few years ago I read the Sioux City transcripts, the controller at Sioux City was just about as amazing as the flight crew. I believe the Captain’s reply to “clear to land, any runway” was something like “You want to be particular and make it a runway?”

  • Bob Collins

    The entire Sioux City incident defied all laws of physics, it seemed. That remains — at least to me — the most impressive display of airmanship and resource management in the history of flight.

  • Helen

    The thing that impressed me the most was how calm the Captain remained.

    Mr Collins did a remarkable job of creating the video/audio of the conversation between the Captain and the controller. Kudos.

  • Brent

    Terrific. Thanks for putting this together.

  • John Stedman

    As a former glider pilot, I have read about 2 other incidents, cargo door blow out in Hawaii, and running out of fuel in a 767 in Canada. Both pilots credited their expeience in gliders as making the difference. I think that is the case here, even more clearly. This was a brick, fully loaded with passengers and fuel, and the only control you have is to get the nose down FAST which is why his options diminished so rapidly. Truly a remarkable feat of pilotage…

  • tt


  • daveg

    That’s a very good compilation. I tried to listen to the raw tapes yesterday and found that it was something like 90% dead air. The editing helps quite a bit in following the flow of events.

    I think the difference between Sioux City and this incident was that Sioux City had quite a bit of advance notice that a jet was about to make an emergency arrival. In 1549’s case, there was no time to clear the airspace or the runways of whatever traffic was already using them. I’ve flown in and out of both Teterboro and Newark- they are very busy places.

  • Colin

    Really appreciate this compilation. Very informative.

  • Incredible and a reminder of what happened that day. The captains response to this emergency was amazing. He kept it together, even though inside his mind he may have been freaking out.