Wednesday, February 04, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549 Update: Feathers, yes; Engine malfunction, no

NTSB photoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has just released a new update on the US Airways Flight 1549 accident. (In case you have been on another planet and don't know, that was the A320 that ditched in New York's Hudson River last month.) Today's update included a photo (right) of a feather found in the accident aircraft's number one engine, and addressed the issue of an engine surge event experienced by the same aircraft two days before the accident.

According to the NTSB, bird remains were found in both engines of the accident aircraft. The organic material from both engines has been sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington where the particular bird species will be identified.

The NTSB update also addressed an engine surge event experienced by the same aircraft two days prior to the accident -- an event that was widely reported by mainstream media. The NTSB confirmed that an engine surge event that occurred in the aircraft's number two engine during a flight on January 13, 2009.
The engine recovered from the surge and the remainder of the flight was completed uneventfully. The NTSB determined that the surge was due to a faulty temperature sensor, which was replaced by maintenance personal following approved procedures. After the engine was examined with a boroscope and found to be undamaged and in good working order, the aircraft was returned to service.
The NTSB goes on to say that, during the accident flight, the flight data recorder revealed "no anomalies or malfunctions in either engine up to the point where the captain reported a bird strike, after which there was an uncommanded loss of thrust in both engines."

Concern had been expressed by some that there may have been a fault with one of the aircraft's two CFM56-5B series turbofan engines, since these engines were the subject of an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) issued on December 31, 2008. The NTSB states unequivocally that "After examining the engine maintenance records and interviewing relevant personnel, the NTSB determined that all of the requirements of the AD were complied with prior to the accident flight."

The aircraft has been removed to a secure salvage yard in Kearny, NJ, where it will remain throughout the course of the NTSB's ongoing investigation.

[Photo Source]

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