Flight 1549: Transcript of cockpit recording + Teterboro

February 5, 2009


Flight 1549 posts
Timeline: FDNY/NYPD response

Capt Sullenberger (Sully) told Katie Couric that when it first happened he was in disbelief and then just prior to land he had “the worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling”. He “knew immediately it was very bad” and his “initial reaction was one of disbelief.”

More on Sunday (2-8) on 60 Minutes. [Here]

Excellent video courtesy of exospher3D. Contains more audio than the original released audio. *Added to transcript.

  • Capt Sully calls in double bird strike 152 seconds after cleared for takeoff
  • 112 secs later he says he’s “going to be in the Hudson”
  • Both incidentally mess up the call signs
  • The only stress in Capt Sully’s voice is at “runway uh”
  • He says only 66 words
  • 16 mins after touchdown TET reports passengers on wings.

NYC is the only place such a rescue would have been possible.

LaGuardiaTracon controller Patrick Harten remains poised throughout. Seems surprised right after Sully said he was going in the Hudson but it doesn’t sound like he gets it until 41 secs later. [Interpretation] For sure 148 secs later. 56 seconds after that he sighs. 18 secs after that another sigh and 8 secs after that he’s relieved of duty. I’ll have to find out his end of the story. [Wore #1549 in Boston Marathon] Hope they talked to him on 60 Minutes too. [Did not]

Not an official transcript. (pdf link no longer works) Hand-transcribed from initial FAA audio (mp3). Above video begins at takeoff and contains more audio *added below.

2027.36 SULLY: Ah, this is, uh, Cactus 1539, hit birds, we lost thrust in both engines. We’re turning back towards La Guardia.

2027:42 Harten: OK, yeah, you need to return to to La Guardia. Turn left heading of two-two-zero.

2027:46 SULLY: Two-two-zero.

2027:49 Harten: Tower, stop your departures, we got an emergency returning.

2027:53 LGA: Who is it?

2027:54 Harten: It’s 1529, he, uh bird strike, he lost all engine, he lost the thrust in the engines, he’s returning immediately.

2027:59 LGA (sounds like Al Michaels): Cactus 1529. Which engines?

2028:01 Harten: He lost thrust in both engines, he said.

2028:03 LGA: Got it.

2028:05 Harten: Cactus 1529, if we can get it to you, do you want to try land runway 1-3?

2028:11 SULLY: We’re unable – we may end up in the Hudson.

2028:17 Harten: Jetlink 27-60 turn left 0-7-0.

2028:19 BTA 2760: Left turn 0-7-0, Jetlink 27-60.

2028:31 Harten: Alright, Cactus 1549, it’s going to be left traffic to runway 3-1.

2028:34 SULLY: Unable.

2028:36 Harten: OK. What do you need to land?

2028:46 Harten: Cactus 1549, runway 4 is available – if you want to make left traffic to runway 4.

2028:50 SULLY: I’m not sure if we can make any runway. Uh, what’s over to our right? Anything in New Jersey? Maybe Teterbro?

2028:55 Harten: Ok, yeah, over to your right side is Teterboro airport.

2029:02 Harten: Do you want to try to go to Teterboro?

2029:03 SULLY: Yes.

2029:05 Harten: Teterboro, uh, Empire, actually La Guardia departure, got an emergency landing inbound.

2029:10 TEB: Ok, go ahead.

2029:11 Harten: Cactus 1529 over George Washington Bridge wants to go to the airport right now.

2029:14 TEB: He wants to go to our airport – check. Does he need any assistance?

2029:17 Harten: Uh, yes, he, uh, he was a bird strike. Can I get him for, uh, runway one?

2029:19 TEB: Runway one, that’s good.

2029:21 Harten: Cactus 1529, turn right 2-8-0. You can land runway 1 at Teterboro.

2029:25 SULLY
: We can’t do it.

2029:26 Harten: OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?

2029:28 SULLY: We’re going to be in the Hudson. [ding, ding, ding]

2029:33 Harten: I’m-I’m sorry – say again, Cactus?

2029:34 TEB: He wants to land here.

2029:41 Harten: Alright. Jetlink 27-60, contact New York 1-2-6 point 8.

2029:45 BTWA 2760: 26-8, Jetlink 27-60

2029:51 Harten: Cactus, uh, Cactus 1549, radar contact is lost. You also got Newark Airport off your 2 o’clock at about 7 miles.

2030:06 Harten: Eagle flight 4718, turn left heading 2-1-0.

2030:09 EGF4718: 2-1-0, uh, 4718. I don’t know – I think he said he was going into the Hudson.

2030:14 Harten: Cactus 1529, uh, you still on? [can hear stress in his voice]

*2030:17 Male ATC:..is he still flying?

2030:19 Woman: He’s still flying

2030:20 Male ATC: Can you fly past him right now?

2030:22 Cactus 1529, if you can, uh, you got, uh, runway 2-9 available at Newark off your 2’o’clock and seven miles.

2030:32 Harten: Eagle flight 4718, climb, maintain 1-2 thousand.

2030:33 Woman: Going down.

2030:34 EGF4718: Ok. 1-2 thousand and, uh, leaving 5 and 2-80 heading.

2030:40 Woman: Fast. He’s going down.

2030:41 Harten: Eagle flight 4718, I’m sorry, I missed that, say again?

2030:44 Woman: He’s in the water.

2030:45 EGF4718: And uh, we’re up to 12,000, uh, 2-80 on the heading.

2030:48 Harten: Ok. Thank you, Eagle Flight 4718, turn left 2-2-0.

2030:51 EGF4718: 2-2-0, 4718.

2030:53 Male ATC: Eagle Tango Alpha I need you to, uh, I’m going to need you, uh, to stay with me if you can so we can keep an eye on where they are.

2031:00 ETA: Roger. I’ve got them in sight. Right next to the USS Intrepid – mid position.

2031:41 Male ATC: Say it again.

2031:05 ETA: Next to the USS Intrepid – mid position.

2031:09 Male ATC: Roger.

2031:11 Woman: …Alpha. I have him in sight. He’s in the water. Yeah, he’s beeping US Interpid.

2031:41 Male ATC: Thank you.

2031:xx: TEB: An airbus wants to land here – he’s declaring an emergency.

2031:32 (?): Was that Cactus up by the Tappan zee?

2031:32 Harten: Uh, yeah, it was a Cactus. He was just north of the, uh, George Washington Bridge when they had the bird strike.

2032:03 Harten: Eagle Flight 4718 contact departure 1-2-4 point 7-5.

2032:08 EGF4718: Uh, 24-75, 4718.

2032:37 L106: Hey, Patty.

2032:38 Harten: Yeah.

2032:39 L106: Seven NY, I’ll just put him on a 2-70 heading and leave him at 6.

2032:42 Harten: Whatever you want, man. [Here he sounds like he got what happened. Clear why from the added video.]

2032:43 L106: And 80 Echo, I’ll put in a 1-80 for wake.

2032:43 Harten: Ok. That’s good.

2032:45 TEB: What happened?

2033:23 N37NY: Good afternoon. New York Boeing 37 November Yankee out of 6 for 7 coming to a heading of 2-50.

2033:24 Harten: November 7 November Yankee, climb and maintain 1-5000.

2033:31 N37NY: 1-5000, 37 November Yankee.

2033:38 Harten: Alright. [Sigh. Get it together man. Thinks they’re gone.] Alright, departure we are stopped on departure runway 4 3-60s runway.

2033:44 NEW PERSON: Ok.

2033:45 Harten: You know abou the Cactus?

2033:46 NEW PERSON: Right.

2033:47 Harten: Uh, I guess it was a double bird strike and he lost all thrust so…

2033:50 N780E: New York Gulfstream 78 Echo, level 7000 and right turn to, uh, 1-9-0.

2033:52 Harten: What do you want to do as far as departures?

2033:55 NEW PERSON: Ok, I’ll figure it out.

2033:56 Harten: 2-50-1-5 [sigh] 8-0 Echo the altimeter 3-0-2-4.

2034:00 N780E: 2-4

2034:01 Harten: You’re not talking to Jetlink yet. They’re gone – all frequencies normal.

2034:04 NEW PERSON: Just those two? Ok.

Harten relieved from duty. Hope it wasn’t too long before he found out everyone was ok. [About an hour] What a feeling that must have been. Talk about agony and ecstasy. It’s got to be horrible to listen to this when they don’t survive. Listening to this already knowing the outcome was bad enough.

Teterboro audiotranscript [Links no longer exist] is almost unreadable and can’t see the times so I transcribed what I could.

There was a shout.

2034:xx Did you see anything off the East River or off the Hudson?


Attention all aircraft be advised it will be about at least ten minutes before I can get any departures. Am still trying to find out what happened. But something happened over there.

2036:xx If you could, let me know if you see anything along the Hudson? Actually anything along the Hudson or the East River?

And, ah, what am I looking for?

2037:xx I’m…not sure – it’s possible a plane might have gone down.

What’s up?

2038:xx Hey Teterboro, we’re not taking anybody down the Hudson River. There’s going to be a flight restriction in the vicinity of the Intrepid. You know what’s going on?


We know what’s going on.

Ok. So nobody down the Hudson River.


Let me know if you see anything.

2040:27 To my knowledge, it’s an Airbus 320 that went down. Bird strike. He was going to land here and then uh….

You see anything?

2040:39 Negative. No. We looked for smoke or fuselage but we didn’t see anything.

Didn’t hear anything.

Believe it may have been an Airbus.

2041:09 Didn’t see anything that size.

Ok. Thanks.

2045: Is a report of a passengers seen standing on the wings of the Airbus in the river.









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