16 Jan 2009

All safe on Airbus in Hudson River

1:16 pm on 16 January 2009

Everyone on board a US Airways Airbus A320 has survived a crash landing into the Hudson River in New York.

Aviation officials say the plane was carrying 148 passengers and up to six crew.

A number of people were taken for treatment at hospitals in New York.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating reports that the plane hit a flock of birds after taking off from LaGuardia airport in New York on Thursday.

Witnesses saw it make an emergency landing in a cloud of spray on the river on a freezing day.

The Airbus A320 is the same type as an Air NZ plane that crashed off the coast of France on 27 November.

US Airways said 150 passengers and five crew were aboard Flight 1549, heading for Charlotte, North Carolina.

Eight ferries and local water taxi services rescued the passengers, some of whom were lined up on the wings wearing yellow life vests, before police boats arrived.

A passenger told Reuters there was what sounded like an explosion a few minutes after takeoff.

Jeff Kolodjay, from Norwalk, Connecticut, said: "We hit the water pretty hard. It was scary.

"You gotta give it to the pilot, he made a hell of a landing," he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it appears the pilot "did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out."

He says the pilot walked the plane twice after everyone was off, to verify that there was nobody else onboard.

Air NZ statement

Air New Zealand says it has no concerns for its fleet of Airbus jets arising from the crash.

Air New Zealand owns two A320s and leases another 10.

A company official says US authorities have indicated the New York crash was caused by bird strike, and therefore there is no cause for concern for the A320 fleet operated by Air New Zealand.

The earlier A320 crash, near France, is still being investigated.