January 15, 2009

"It was a bird strike... It could easily snuff out the engines of an airplane."

Heard on TV. The story. There are some amazing photographs of the crashed plane, floating in the Hudson River, with passengers standing on one wing, on the front page of the NYT right now.

Dr. Helen, who says she's "slightly afraid of birds and ha[s] a flying phobia, asks: "[W]hy can't an engine stand up to a few birds flying into it?" The answer in the comments: It was a whole flock of birds.

100 comments:

chuckR said...

Modern jets have the glide characteristics of a brick. To land one sans engines in freezing deep water, with air temperature colder still, wheels up and not have any fatalities? A prayer of thanks to the Deity is in order. And an attaboy/girl to the pilots.

PS - if more people understood what happens inside a jet engine, fewer people would fly.

blake said...

Yes, bravo to the pilots.

Michael H said...

Brilliant flying. Simply brilliant. Give the pilots a medal.

traditionalguy said...

In the photo in NYT the airplane looked like the Wall Street world that is seen behind the plane wreck. Will somebody please salvage it and get it flying high again.

Ophir said...

It should be investigated whether the flock had any ties to al-Qaeda.

Xmas said...

Great, now I have to lie to my mom and tell her I'm not flying US Scareways on Monday.

Original Mike said...

if more people understood what happens inside a jet engine, fewer people would fly.

I try not to think about it.

joated said...

Not just birds but geese. Honkers of 15 to 20 pounds. Evenone of that size could kill an engine. A flock?

siyeh pass said...

I had heard that the 'few birds' were Canadian geese.

Donna B. said...

Cooked that goose well.

Beth said...

Yes on the bravo and medals and I would add a ticker-tape parade down 5th Avenue for the pilots' amazing poise and professionalism.

Original George said...

A Flock of Seagulls...total loss.

Great new book about who survives disasters and why:

The Unthinkable by a Time reporter.

One of the myths of disasters is that people panic. More often, they exhibit dawdling behavior. Denial.

Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez is an even better book on surviving crises. Checklist at the link.

jdeeripper said...

Bird gets ingested in airplane engine

rhhardin said...

It's not hard to land on calm water safely. You don't even have the problem of judging the approach, since there's water ahead of you wherever you come down.

rhhardin said...

Jets glide very nicely, by the way.

rhhardin said...

The Gimli Glider an Air Canada jet that ran out of fuel at 40,000 feet.

rhhardin said...

The mystery of jet engines, if you look at the diagram, is why it doesn't just blow out both ends.

There's actually a simple answer, which is never given.

Larry J said...

Modern jets have the glide characteristics of a brick.

That simply isn't true unless the flaps and landing gear are down. The case of The Gimli Glider mentioned above proves it.

It sounds like both the cockpit and cabin crews did their jobs very well. Let's also give credit and thanks to those boats who showed up so quickly to pick up the people. The water was very cold (reportedly 41F) and it would've been much worse had the people been in the water for long.

Tibore said...

CBS reports that the jet missed a bridge (the George Washington bridge?) by just 900 feet. At the speeds and maneuverability this jet was gliding at/with, that's damn close.

rhhardin said...

CBS reports that the jet missed a bridge (the George Washington bridge?) by just 900 feet.

Jeez. The pilot isn't going to hit the bridge. He's going to miss it.

There's nothing close about it.

He's steering the thing according to what he sees.

Kev said...

My best friend (who, by the way, shares a birthday with our esteemed bloghostess) was on this exact same flight...yesterday.

I can't begin to tell you how glad he is that his NYC trip didn't last a day longer.

As others have said, kudos to the pilots and crew. To get everyone prepared in a mere three minutes is nothing short of astounding (and from where I sit, shows evidence of the Hand of God as well).

Eli Blake said...

Maybe that's what happened to the passenger pigeon. The final blow was struck by the Wright Brothers.

The Drill SGT said...

1. rhhardin said...
It's not hard to land on calm water safely. You don't even have the problem of judging the approach, since there's water ahead of you wherever you come down.


The number of successful water landings commercial class planes in the last 50 years can be counted on one hand at best. I know of no other. yes, a few planes run off the end of runways into tidal flats, but successful landings in open ocean dont exist.

2. PS - if more people understood what happens inside a jet engine, fewer people would fly.

engine engines are tested by shooting frozen chickens into running engines. the inside is a set of rotating blades. the problem is that the birds break off the ledaing blades which proceed to "shed blades" as the bird and broken blades proceed deeper into the engine. The solution is to armor the cylinder around the engine to contain the deconstruction of the engine.

3. rhhardin said...
Jets glide very nicely, by the way.
a glider glider glides with a ratio of 30-1. meaning if the plane was at 3,000 feet, it could glide 90,000 feet before landing (18 miles).

The famous Gimli Gilder (a 767) had an actual ratio of 12-1, meaning one you get into bets glide slope angle you could go something less than 36,000 feet (7 miles. The Space shuttle glides on a 3-1 ratio. about that same ratio u get from a parachute.

Tibore said...

chuckR said...
PS - if more people understood what happens inside a jet engine, fewer people would fly.


I know. I once had a flight next to a man who said he used to work for GE's turbine division. He claimed that engines flame out multiple times over a typical flight, and that the restart is just a mundane procedure. He went so far as to say that it's actually considered routine operation, not an emergency situation (unless it's both - or on 4 engine planes, more than 2 simultaneous failures).

If true, that's incredible. BTW, if any real pilots are on this board, can you either confirm or correct? You'd think you'd feel that happen. I'm no pilot myself, and I've never heard that before. But I don't fly often, nor hang around pilots, so I'm as layman as you can get regarding this topic.

Anyway, if true, then that's also scary. But even thinking outside of flameouts, it's frightening to think of the forces, pressures, and temperatures inside a jet engine. Those things are compact and lightweight for the forces they produce (not compact and light in absolute terms, BTW, but in terms of what they output). That's some serious power contained in those packages. You worry if just one simple thing goes wrong; if the engine disintegrated, what could it do to the fuselage itself? I end up thinking that every time I fly in a jet, especially one of the commuter jets with the engines on the fuselage, not hung from the wings.

The Drill SGT said...

He claimed that engines flame out multiple times over a typical flight, and that the restart is just a mundane procedure. He went so far as to say that it's actually considered routine operation, not an emergency situation (unless it's both - or on 4 engine planes, more than 2 simultaneous failures

I don't believe this unless his definition of a flameout is just the "pop" and flame jet one occasionally sees out the last stage of the engine.

Those events may not require intervention by the pilots.

rhhardin said...

I remember a JAL DC-8 that landed short in the bay in San Francisco, probably in the 60s.

The trouble with ditching large aircraft is that it's usually in the ocean, which is not a flat surface, and the plane breaks up when it touches down. The Hudson is a nice surface.

A 12:1 glide ratio is very good, but matters only if you're trying to reach someplace really distant. Here they had the river right there.

Probably the only emergency aspect is reconfiguring the jet for landing quickly and figuring out where you're planning to put down.

The planes are designed to be flown without exceptional airmanship with both engines out.

The need for a news emergency story and the need for a hero template overwhelm the coverage.

Dogwood said...

Here is an interesting article from Air & Space Magazine that discusses the operational envelope of jet engines.

The Drill SGT said...

rhhardin said...
I remember a JAL DC-8 that landed short in the bay in San Francisco, probably in the 60s.



Note that was the tidal flats I mentioned. what is noteworthy?

The Asoh defense:

On November 22, 1968 Japan Airlines flight 2, carrying 96 passengers, 6 infants, and 11 crew members, was on a routine approach into San Francisco International Airport. Unfortunately, after what appeared to be a perfect landing, the aircraft came to rest in 9 feet of water, 6 miles short of the runway out in the bay… No one was hurt, there was little damage to the plane, and the landing was so smooth they didn’t know they were in the water until a passing wave put the jet engines out.

Soon thereafter, Dan Rather, Henny Penny, and Duckie Luckie, along with other media correspondents were buying up San Francisco hotel rooms in anticipation of prolonged hearings to determine what happened and more importantly, who was to blame for the unintentional water landing in San Francisco Bay. When the NTSB hearing began the first witness was the pilot in command, Captain Kohei Asoh, a pilot with over 10,000 flying hours. The hearing officer asked Captain Asoh how a pilot with his experience could have landed a DC-8 in perfect working order, on a perfect compass heading to the runway, 6 miles short of the runway out in the water? In a testimony of extraordinary clarity and brevity, Captain Asoh said, “…as you American’s say, Asoh $#@&-up”. For all intents and purposes the hearing was over. Nothing more of significance could be added, and all that was critical to the investigation was now on the table

Tibore said...

"The Drill SGT said...
I don't believe this unless his definition of a flameout is just the "pop" and flame jet one occasionally sees out the last stage of the engine.

Those events may not require intervention by the pilots."


No, Drill SGT, he specifically discussed the engines needing restarts. Was he exaggerating to show off? I honestly don't know.

Dogwood said...

Tibore,

In the article I linked to above, the author states the following:

A flameout of one kind or another is thought to occur once in every 100,000 non-military flights.

Tibore said...

Oh really? I didn't know that. Thanks, Dogwood. I'll read that link ASAP. Between your post and Drill SGT's, I'm beginning to think I was the victim of "gregarious seatmate syndrome" on that flight.

Skyler said...

I'm not a pilot, but I used to be in charge of a shop that rebuilt jet engines from the bearings up.

A large bird will completely destroy just about any turbo jet or turbofan engine. The compressor blades are moving pretty fast and something with the mass of a large bird (vulture, eagle, goose) without question will do severe and usually fatal damage to it.

This is why airports spend so much time and money trying to keep birds away from the ends of runways.

Pilots tell me that many birds actually dive toward a jet when they see it. They weren't sure why. That makes the odds of one going directly into the intake a bit higher.

Tibore: The GE rep who said that engines routinely stop working during a flight was pulling your leg. Jet engines are very simple in their basic operation. If they stop running, such as if they stall, it is very noticeable and very loud. An engine stall is similar to an aircraft stall. The air flow into the engine stops because the pressure in front of the compressor blades is insufficient to keep air flow going inside. It makes a VERY loud bang when that happens. A stall would be very rare in a commercial aircraft. They are usually the result of extreme aircraft maneuvering with restricted intakes (such as the old A-4 skyhawk, which has engine stall problems, but the same engine in an A-6 with its bigger intakes don't have stall problems) or a mechanical problem with the engine. On most commercial aircraft, the intakes are quite open, and the plane isn't doing max performance turns.

RhHardin wrote: "The mystery of jet engines, if you look at the diagram, is why it doesn't just blow out both ends.

"There's actually a simple answer, which is never given."

The answer is very simple. The compressor sucks, the turbine blows. In between is magic.

The air flow keeps going through because of the pressures of the different stages.

The air flow starts at the inlet. The compressor is spun and the compressor vanes create higher pressure behind them than in front. This is from basic bernouli principles. Each stage of the compressor puts a higher and higher pressure deeper in the engine. So why doesn't the air flow back to the front where the pressure is lower? Because you're putting work into the air with the compressor.

Then the air hits the combustion section. Fuel is dumped into the air stream and is ignited. This makes the pressure even higher, but now the rear of the engine is the lower pressure so the air continues moving to the rear. The pressure is lower because the volume increases. That is, the air has been squeezed down into a very small cross section but right after the combustion section the area dramatically increases (diffuser). The high pressure air seeks the lower pressure of this opened up area.

As it travels in the diffuser, the speed of the air flow increases as the pressure decreases. The air flow is then used to turn the turbine blades. The fuel burned provides the energy needed to allow the air flow to have enough power to turn the turbine sections (which is what turns the compressor section) and still have enough energy left over to exit the engine. The pressure of the exhaust is high enough to move the aircraft forward. That is, the pressure behind the engine is higher than the pressure in front of the engine, so the engine tends to move forward to the low pressure area.

Jet engines are very, very efficient compared to internal combustion engines in your car. Historically, the reason they aren't used in cars is that the exhaust is too hot and there is typically a delay in engine response that is much quicker in your car.

I suppose Hardin knew this, but I felt a need to be an engineer again.

Craig Landon said...

I'm in awe of rhhardin's equanimity, confidence, and skill in the face of a potential disaster he didn't have to handle, over NYC, with a dead stick, and 150 (or more) lives on the line. Meet me at the simulator; you won't walk out "alive".

Jets glide very nicely, by the way.

Not when they're turning, which increases stall speed and rate of decent significantly.

Show some respect.

Jen Bradford said...

This isn't to diminish the pilot's obvious skill, but the Hudson made a good runway, given the alternatives. It's not very wide, but it's a pretty straight shot.

I really liked the piece in the Times, where a ferry with passengers picked up survivors, and gave people their coats, called people for them and hugged them to warm them - I eat that stuff up.

Tibore said...

Thank you, Skyler. Information appreciated.

Dumb question: Is there a difference between a "flameout" and a "stall"? I understand that both are thrust-arresting circumstances, but I was under the impression that they are indeed different: A stall would be a situation where airflow is disrputed due to a radical turn or extreme angle-of-attack, so combustion suffers or completely extinguishes. Whereas a flameout would be nothing more than the combustion ceasing, but airflow into the engine remaining (there's simply no thrust added by the combustion anymore, and the drag from the diffuser segment spinning without combustion would eventually slow the craft down).

In short, the first would be air deprivation at the intake due to airflow disruption, whereas the second would be pressure deprivation within the engine due to the cessation of fuel combustion.

If I'm wrong, please feel free to correct. I'm merely reciting what my impression was up to this point, and if I'm wrong, it'd be nice to know what the right information is. But if I'm right, I'd like an excuse to do a little happy dance. :)

Jen Bradford said...

I don't know how long they'll be up, but photos 3-5 in the slideshow are maps of the plane's trajectory.

Skyler said...

Tibore, my experience with jet engines is quite old, so perhaps my answer isn't the best one, but here goes my understanding.

An engine stall is a pretty specific term and you have defined it well. A flameout is less specific. It could be caused by any number of things, and my understanding is that a flameout is simply when combustion ceases for some reason. I don't recall anyone using that term when I was a power plants officer. I'm an engineer, but my time with jet engines was in the military and any knowlege I got about them was simply from being exposed to them and not because I had any particular training.

If anyone did use the term flame out, I would take it to mean they ran out of fuel, or there was a fuel system failure. A fuel control failure was not unheard of but rarely did they fail to that extent. Usually the fuel system was pretty relable and a failure resulted in poor control of the fuel, not cessation of fuel flow.

A stall could be called a flame out. That's essentially what happens in a stall, from my understanding. Air momentarily stops flowing into the engine, but fuel is still sprayed into the combustion chamber. When air flow is resumed, there is excess fuel inside and it all ignites at the same time. The result is an extremely loud bang, and possibly damage to the engine.

I have never heard of an engine stopping, EVER, without it being considered a severe problem by the air crew. The GE rep was trying to scare you.

rhhardin said...

Actually the engine explanation I needed long ago, when the question came up, was ``leverage.''

Just having compressors doesn't answer the question. The gas could just as easily blow backwards through the compressor. It's all empty space around the blades.

The trick is that the blades in the back have a mechanical advantage over the blades in the front.

Skyler said...

And like I said before, I'm not a pilot, but I've been around enough of them to know that landing a plane on water without engines is not easy.

I'm amazed that Jen and Hardin seem to think it such a cakewalk.

Even if it is something that any pilot should be capable of doing, and it might be for all I know about these planes, the fact still remains that these pilots did it when it counted.

Any number of people can be heroes. It's the ones that do the right thing when faced with the circumstance where they are needed that are called heroes.

Hardin and Jen may be quite capable of landing a jet without engines on a river, but until they do so, I'll call the ones who did it heroes without a need to consult the peanut gallery.

rhhardin said...

Airplanes fly just fine dead stick.

It used to be that you were taught to do every landing dead stick, which is to say minimal power, just so that you learned the geometry of a dead stick approach in case you ever needed it.

Nowadays they teach you to drag it in under power, I suppose a concession to the heavier traffic patterns and long finals.

Anyway my objective here is the low quality of evaluation of this and that in the coverage. The psychological need for a narrative that avoids anything technical is overwhelming.

Because women need to be kept interested so they do not tune away.

So every detail is a near disaster and a hero is needed to explain why nothing happened.

chuckR said...

Here's a PhD dissertation by a guy who worked for me many years ago. It covers just one aspect of the planning that goes into design and acceptance of a turbine.

TurbineBladeOff

Just in case you do want to know...

And because the engines are underwing mount on the A320, it must have been a jolt when they started scooping H2O at speed. Those pilots earned their pay.

Skyler said...

rhhardin wrote: "The trick is that the blades in the back have a mechanical advantage over the blades in the front."

Yes, that's one way to describe it. There are usually two or more stages to a compressor, each driven by a different turbine stage. The N1 compressor is closest to the inlet and is driven by the rearmost turbine. The N2 compressor is closest to the combustion section and is driven by the first turbine section.

So the compressor that compresses to the highest pressure is powered by the turbine spun by the hottest and highest pressure gas.

Each compressor also has several levels of blades. (I'm forgetting exact terms now.) Each stage has rotors separated by stators. Each stage rotors are set at a higher angle of attack. This makes sense. The pressure into that rotor is high, there is already air flow, and so each level can take a bigger bite, or use more leverage.

But I think a more accurate reason is because work is being put into the air. Work alone isn't enough, of course, every facet of the design is critical, but the reason the air doesn't flow back is because the compressor can keep turning because it is powered. If it weren't spun with such high power, then the air would not be compressed and would flow out the front again.

Perhaps the absolute best answer is that it takes both energy and leverage. Archimedes needed a fulcrum and a place to stand.

Skyler said...

"Because women need to be kept interested so they do not tune away."

Well, of course. And this is why they shouldn't vote.

And get back in the kitchen except when they're giving their man a beer.

Sheesh.

rhhardin said...

The Germans were as doubtful about air blowing out the front as anybody, and invented the buzz jet.

Shutters closed off the front so air didn't blow out.

Being powered doesn't help the explanation, incidentally. It's powered by the gasses whose direction of flow is still in question, and could just as easily be powered backwards.

rhhardin said...

Sheesh

Long ago I wondered why the press coverage of every airplane mishap was always impossibly wrong.

It occured to me that they weren't trying to get it right. They were trying to keep the audience interested.

Technical detail puts off women, the prime news audience.

So any technical detail is removed and something else substituted, even if the original unedited copy was correct.

If you want it right, read about it in Aviation Week. The popular press has another goal entirely.

PatCA said...

Wow, great work all round, from the pilots to the crew to the rescue folks and to the passengers themselves.

Bird strikes are actually more common that one would think. Bird Strikes

Malcom Gladwell wrote about air accidents, their "true" causes and why air travel is now so much safer than in years past, in Outliers. It's good, so no spoilers!

Yachira said...

ChuckR's assertion in the 1st comment on modern jets having the glide characterstics of a brick is entirely incorrect. See:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/science_news/4299543.html

Tibore said...

Skyler, once again, thank you for the info.

I don't know if the guy was trying to scare me or what. Given what I'm told here, I'm now in doubt about what the guy said, but he was pretty straightfaced and serious when he said it. So I'm pretty sure I heard him right, and I'm also pretty certain I'm not misunderstanding, incorrectly remembering, or misinterpreting anything. Again, he specifically discussed the engines needing to be restarted, and how he'd feel it happen multiple times a flight, even the one we were on. But given what you and others are posting here, plus a complete absence of confirming information elsewhere, such as on the 'net - well, I just can't help but really, really doubt what he said to me.

That aggravates me, but well... complete stranger, random conversation... it's not like I was in a class for grades or anything.

Meh. Maybe he did do it to scare me. Or maybe he was showing off. Who knows. But anyway, I totally buy what you all are telling me. Thanks for the info, folks. I appreciate it.

Jen Bradford said...

Has the co-pilot been identified? S/he had to be pretty great as well.

Skyler - cakewalk? I didn't imply anything of the sort.

Ann Althouse said...

"Because women need to be kept interested so they do not tune away..."

Our old rh, leaving his mark.

peter hoh said...

A Twin Cities TV station reports that the co-pilot is from the Madison area.

John Burgess said...

I think the media can be relied upon to report that something happened, especially if it's backed up with multiple sources and lots of photos.

I do not trust them to evaluate causes or consequences, though. That's where the 'narrative' kicks in and we left at the mercy of the writer's skills, knowledge, and objectivity.

It requires patience, but the NTSB reports are, in my book, the definitive word on why a crash happened. Nearly all reports are published on line, going back to 1962. The patience part kicks in because reports can take several years to be published.

The link above goes to a database of synopses of the reports. More detailed reports can be found through a database search. Some reports run to hundreds of pages, so you might need more patience there.

Skyler said...

Journalists are among the worst educated group of people who have gone to college. Some are possibly smart, but those that end up working in the field and have "journalism" degrees know nothing about anything. They get on the air or on the newspaper and talk about things that they have tried very hard in their educational career to not know.

That's why any time there is a news article regarding any matter that I am involved with or have any knowlege of, I can count on the report being wrong. Not necessarily from bias, though this is often true, but simply out of sheer laziness, ignorance, and a disinterest in knowing anything about their subject matter beyond a few minutes of scratching out a headline and introductory paragraph.

The sooner we end the myth that journalism is a special field, the better. With the internet, there's no reason to be stuck with the same ignorant pundits, reporters, and other various hacks on tv and in the newspapers. There's no reason we can't have experts on every topic explain things in intelligent but understandable ways.

Kev said...

A large bird will completely destroy just about any turbo jet or turbofan engine. The compressor blades are moving pretty fast and something with the mass of a large bird (vulture, eagle, goose) without question will do severe and usually fatal damage to it.

Here's a totally serious question that runs the risk of sounding really stupid--but there seem to be a few people on board here who are pretty knowledgeable about aviation, so I'll risk looking dumb in the pursuit of enlightenment:

Seeing as how bird strikes can have such serious consequences, and assuming that the flight crew has a few seconds' worth of notice that a bird or group of birds is headed their way, is it not possible to have some sort of device--akin to a car horn, perhaps--that could be sounded to scare the birds away before they get sucked into the engine?

Just curious...

peter hoh said...

Good points, Skyler.

Salon has an active pilot who covers aviation. He constantly points out how the media gets air coverage wrong. I look forward to what he has to say about this story.

Kev said...

And now I see that, for this particular flight, a paragraph in the NYT blog renders my question moot, as this would have been unavoidable:

The A320 would normally climb out of LaGuardia with the nose pointed high in the air, limiting forward visibility and would have been moving at close to 200 miles an hour, at which speed a pilot would have little time to recognize a flock of birds and take evasive action, aviation experts said.

But I'm still curious as to whether a warning device would work in a more straight-line flying situation.

Skyler said...

Kev asked, "is it not possible to have some sort of device--akin to a car horn, perhaps--that could be sounded to scare the birds away before they get sucked into the engine?"

Hmm. The engine is already screaming at about 200 decibels (I just made that number up, but it's pretty darn loud) so I don't know how any other noise could even be heard over it. It's also not clear that birds would avoid a horn or other device that was far enough away for them to have time to avoid the aircraft.

Some people ask why can't a screen be put up in front, but the problem with that is that the impact would pretty much destroy any screen, and the result would be that even small birds would cause catastrophic damage because pieces of the screen would be going down the intake. Pieces of metal are much worse than birds. Not to mention that a screen would have a big effect on air flow. Also, dirt and ice would accumulate on a screen, causing more problems as the dirt falls off.

Helicopters have a device to keep debris out of the engines, but their engines are much smaller and the aircraft is going a lot slower. I've never seen the device, but I'm told it works by circling the air in a chamber before it enters the intake. This causes centrifugal forces to send debris out by some ducting. The purpose is to keep twigs and other small bits of debris out. I imagine it wouldn't work on a buzzard or a goose.

I'm sure there is some possible device but so far the drawbacks seem to be worse than what they're trying to cure.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kev said...

Hmm. The engine is already screaming at about 200 decibels (I just made that number up, but it's pretty darn loud) so I don't know how any other noise could even be heard over it.

Good point, Skyler. I guess I was imagining something that sounded at a sharply higher or lower pitch than the engine itself (while having no idea if birds have the acute high-register hearing ability of, say, dogs). I'm definitely over-thinking this one...

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skyler said...

rhhardin said: "The Germans were as doubtful about air blowing out the front as anybody, and invented the buzz jet."

You know, I find this very hard to believe. If this is true, what did they expect shutters to do?

Compressible air flow is a relatively new field, but I think they had a bit more sense about it than that. They were excellent engineers and scientists and were on the forefront of compressible flow.

Okay, I just googled and you've got the story a bit wrong.

The V1 used a pulse jet, not a turbo jet engine. Totally different technology.

jdeeripper said...

Skyler said..."Because women need to be kept interested so they do not tune away."

Well, of course. And this is why they shouldn't vote.


I've been saying the same thing for years.

Same with the Olympics. I remember when the change happened when ABC went to their patented "Up Close and Personal" segments.

I wanted to see more ski jumping and instead I get a video of some guy crying about his mom.

peter hoh said...

Patrick Smith's new column is posted, and he talks about the Hudson River landing.

Skyler said...

Fascinating field, but one with the potential for employees to walk off with $8,000 turbine blades. Jet engines are not cheap!

Yeah, I had one of my Marines decide to try to sell scrap blades to a salvage yard. Of course the guy called the cops. My Marine went to jail. What an idiot.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Florida said...

"The answer in the comments: It was a whole flock of birds."

God, what an idiotic comment. It was most certainly not "a whole flock of birds" that caused the jet engines to be unable to survive.

A single bird can be sucked into either engine and destroy that engine. Do they teach you people physics any more?

Apparently not.

Such ignorance of basic physics caused the destruction of the Space Shuttle when a bunch of alleged Harvard-educated scientists decided that a little foam coming off a fuel tank posed no hazard to a mighty carbon-fibre wing.

Such is the education you are likely to get at Harvard.

Jet engines today are not made to withstand a goose strike ... they're made to be fuel efficient.

rhhardin said...

"Because women need to be kept interested so they do not tune away..."

Our old rh, leaving his mark.


Is it no sexual difference day? What do you think the news networks sell?

Audience, not news.

rhhardin said...

Birds dive and double back to avoid predators, so you don't want to fly just under them. It may make them appear to be engine-seeking, though.

The dive is to gain speed.

Squirrels do the double-back trick as well, which is why they're always crushed by cars they can plainly see, but it would defeat a pursuing dog, when that's the problem.

AllenS said...

Florida--

From the article: "A bird or several birds entered engines on both sides of the plane, or a “double bird” in the jargon of safety workers."

Both sides of the plane would certainly indicate more than one goose. Having watched geese flying in formation, which they seem to do quite often, one would imagine the distance between engines on both sides of the plane to indicate a flock of birds.

AllenS said...

I didn't go to Harvard.

Michael H said...

Hilarious opinion piece - blaming Bush for the war on geese.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Women : rhhardin :: Jews : Cedarford.

Cedarford said...

Bad luck combined with good luck.
Enough birds, and big birds spread out in flight to take out both engines at once. Bad luck.
Good luck? 155 obvious answers.

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I'd say pilot and crew did well. Very well. I would go further and say that people should admire the crew and the superb NYC rescuers that were there in minutes getting people out of the water and regard such high performance as something to aspire to, to call heroic.

We do have to be careful about paying too much credence to media going overboard on the hero stuff though. How "courageous" the pilot was, how noble and pure the "hero divers" were and the brave rescuers in boats fetching people purely because they are such wonderful government employees who act while lesser civilian humans fail to...
Sort of like the "Firefighters are all heroes because they run into buildings others are evacuating from..."

Umm, no. The 1st responders are doing the jobs they were trained to do, wearing protective gear, and well familiar and accepting of the risk-reward aspects of their job.
The pilot and crew train for this regularly, and actions after an emergency landing are so drilled that the airling employees are basically on err...autopilot.

As for courageous...I give the pilot props for one bit of courage - waiting to ensure all were off the plane..but as for the rest, he was flying then softly landing to 1st and foremost save his ass. If he was craven and cowardly, what would he have done differently flying and landing it? None. Or if he was really fearful instead of brave, decide to crash it?

rhhardin said...

I'm attacking the media; women will be and should be interested in whatever interests them, indeed that's what feminism gets wrong.

The media though cater to what interests women, and the interests of women edit every public discussion as a result.

So you can't get a realistic story about, for example, aircraft mishaps.

The air immediately clouds with emotions, because they introduce the most complexity, which women crave and stay tuned for.

Guys hunker down and wonder when the coverage will be over of this latest crisis.

Aviation Week will come, the only relief from the emote-fest.

rhhardin said...

Realistic story: there is no discussion in the media of perfectly ordinary piloting skill, and what might be expected from.

Because it does not support the crisis narrative and its hero narrative.

If you want to be quoted in the news, you know what the quote has to be.

They edit for narrative.

Tibore said...

The engine is already screaming at about 200 decibels (I just made that number up, but it's pretty darn loud)"

Figures I found on the web for the sound level from a jet engine covers a remarkably large range. They go from 120dB (at 100', for one parked at the terminal) to 215 dB (for one during a sonic boom, but no distance to the source of noise was given). That is one hell of a huge spread; a decibel is a logarithmic unit, so the difference between, for example, 10 and 20 dBs is a whole order of magnitude in terms of sound pressure levels (watts per meter squared, or whatever units you choose to employ). But it goes to show you how loud one of those things get. They get damn loud.

Rock concerts, by comparison, are around the 120 dB range as well. 160 dB (to be pedantic, dB(SPL)) is supposed to immediately rupture the eardrum. 130 dB is commonly refered to as the "threshold of pain".

The Drill SGT said...

factor in the fact that the sound wave is moving forward at, well the speed of sound :)

but the plane is moving forward at 2/3 the speed of sound, so the forward projection of the engine noise, is forshortened greatly.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Well, you're not going that fast at takeoff, though.

jdeeripper said...

Paul Zrimsek said...Women : rhhardin :: Jews : Cedarford.

Truth : Paul Zrimsek.

Nichevo said...

You know, C4, aside from other of your beliefs and values which I find problematic, you have a nasty habit of deprecating the efforts and achievements of others.

What did you do in the Air Force? Launched no ICBMs I trust? Certainly none in anger. So you spent a bunch of time in underground warrens and executed a bunch of drills. Your self-esteem seems to be fine, bro, just fine.

You do not elevate yourself by dragging down others. And you don't diminish yourself by giving credit where credit is due. That USAir flyer was a Hotel Sierra pilot and has some kudos coming, even if he didn't turn water into wine.

And yes, firemen do rush in where everybody with sense is rushing out, and should be lauded for it. Uh, yes, they get paid a decent middle-class wage with good benefits, at least the NYFD does (and what about volunteer fire departments?), and I suppose they get more ass than a toilet seat, but your response leaves me entirely cold. What would be your necessary risk-reward ratio to fight fires?

What are you going to say to St. Pete if/when your turn comes? "Forget those other mopes. I pushed buttons and turned keys in the correct order from the safety of many feet of earth, rebarred concrete and armor plate!"

Nichevo said...

Excuse me, FDNY of course. (NYPD for cops)

chuckR said...

Did I miss anything? I stayed late after remedial physics class. That 12:1 glide ratio of the gimli glider is probably an upper bound. Planes like this A320 with all that JP on board, are heavier than the same plane out of gas...
Nonetheless, it would sure glide better than a brick, even one that was thrown at 200 kts.

rhhardin said...

I'm with Cedarford.

The point being that all this coverage is served up as entertainment. Real life ought to intrude a little more in the nation's TV news fantasy life.

A story of normal competence isn't news. No audience. No ratings. No revenue.

blake said...

A story of normal competence isn't news.

Uh, it is to anyone watching Congress for the past eight years, and the past four months especially.

Nichevo said...

OK...

1) If that plane had just crashed into the tiger exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, how many would blame the Canada geese and how many would blame the crappy pilots who couldn't execute a perfect ditching with zero practice?

2) 1), except the pilots tried and failed to ditch, crashing into a more or less populated area?

3) What then is 'heroic' to y'all? Sgt. York, Audie Murphy? They were self-interested; wanted to live/win the war.

What makes the grade? I think C4 once mentioned that he thinks little of the old throw-yourself-on-a-grenade trick. What then?

Define heroism. Define courage. Define bravery.

Would it be some Vietnamese woman with her baby, trying to get on the last helicopter, seeing there is no room for her and giving her baby to another passenger?

Would you be more impressed with Capt. Sullenberger if he flew the landing with one hand because the other was clamping shut his abdominal aorta after an explosion in the cockpit?

What is heroic? Voting for Obama?

As for courage, Hemingway defined it well, IMHO, as "grace under pressure," and I think this incident qualifies.

rhhardin said...

The need for a narrative dies hard.

Hence the media business model and its targeted audience.

Ridicule is of no use. These people are serious.

Skyler said...

Hardin, you're confusing two things. Yes, the media needs to keep stories going and make them all sound dramatic because they need to sell papers and air time.

But sometimes the story really does involve heroism and this is one of them. This pilot is a hero. He saved a lot of lives in a dangerous situation.

You really should get over your petty personal issues and learn to celebrate good happenings. Sometimes things are really that good and with your attitude you're just going to miss out on some of the better times in life.

Stop whining and learn to celebrate.

rhhardin said...

It's just ordinary competence and news idiocy.

rhhardin said...

con't

Is it ignorance of airplanes? The engines do not hold the airplane up.

There's a news flash you won't see on The View.

rhhardin said...

I'm listening to Friday's Limbaugh - Coulter is awful in person.

A station news break speaks of the pilot ``guiding the crippled airliner to safety.''

The beginning pilot material never proposed that. It said if your engine stops on takeoff, put the nose down and look for a flat place to land.

Nothing about guiding. It's still a normal airplane, just one going downhill to keep the speed up instead of using the engine. You just fly it to where you want it to go.

Guiding must come up in a very advanced stage.

Skyler said...

Yes, you're right hardin, the word guiding is actually a code word betraying a global conspiracy to emasculate all the television news watchers.

You see, piloting an aircraft doesn't involve guiding it or controlling its direction, attitude and velocity. When you pilot an aircraft everything is simple, you just do all the steps listed in the pilot's manual and nothing ever goes wrong. And no judgment or skill is required if you follow the manual generally.

It's really hard to lampoon someone who is really as far out in nutterville as this.

rhhardin said...

Have you considered any other reason why it might be hard to lampoon?

All that's extraordinary about the incident is that two engines got taken out instead of one.

That meant the plane had to land somewhere.

Landing on a river that big is trivial. God, the accounts I've heard : that he landed in the exact center of the river, that he managed to avoid the George Washington bridge, that he managed to avoid all the boats, that he managed to avoid the piers on the New York side and the ferries on the New Jersey side. Guys, it's a huge river. It's flat. It's long. It's within gliding range of where he was.

Just land on it.

The no deaths comes from: the plane didn't break up, thanks to its being a river and waveless pretty much; the pilot doesn't have much control of this beyond touching down gently, which is not hard at all; and there were boats everywhere to take people off before they froze or drowned.

Anybody who can pilot that aircraft at all does much harder things every time he lands it on a runway, which is to say every day.

Having a place to land when the power goes out is a matter of luck and sometimes planning (say if you're sightseeing offshore you might want to be high enough to glide to the beach at all times); and putting the plane down there is a matter of skill if it's a small place, but not so much if it's a large place. (Judgement gets important because you have to match speed and altitude if you want to touch down in a particular spot, unlike a river).

It's all hype from top to bottom.

Don't let me spoil your beloved news narrative though.

I can't believe guys fall for this. Maybe they want to impress women by showing they won't mock them. A form of male reliability, in women's eyes.

Skyler said...

Right, hardin. And you've got how many hours in a large multiengine passenger aircraft?

rhhardin said...

Are you saying that we ought to wait for the official report then?

Good. I assume that applies to both sides. I certainly read the official reports, owing to being interested in Aviation Things That Go Wrong.

We wouldn't want to contribute to the level of public disinformation and fantasy gratification; there's so much of it in the news already.

blake said...

RHH--

I'm really not getting this. Your idea is that this is such an ordinary occurrence, so mundane as to be not at all newsworthy, and so banal as to be unworthy of notice?

blake said...

Not notice, there, I meant praise. Unworthy of praise.

rhhardin said...

It's not ordinary. It's very unusual that a bird strike takes out two engines.

It's not at all exceptional that the guy lands successfully in a large river, given that two engines have gone out.

Skyler said...

At some point even I figure out that someone can't possibly be as stupid as hardin portrays himself and yet be capable of manipulating a computer keyboard and eventually come to grips that he's just a troll looking for attention.

rhhardin said...

The ingredients are:

1. Something unusually bad happens (dual bird strike, 100% power loss).

2. Nothing else bad happens (guy lands in river).

The public clamors for understanding.

Ah. It must be that a hero cancelled the unusually bad happening.

It's all good and evil playing out.

That's the level news works at today, because it makes money. They sell you to advertisers.

That it's part of the general reliability built into the system doesn't occur to anybody, but it's really much more interesting.

rhhardin said...

This Popular Mechanics account seems a little less hysterical.

Count off how many points I agreed with in it.

via Instapundit.