Fight 1549: bird bits = Canada geese

February 12, 2009

Flight 1549 posts
NTSB awaiting ID of bird bits

It’s official – Canada geese – identified through visual and DNA evidence. Canada geese run between 6-10lbs and the engine standard at the time the engines were produced was 4lbs. It was really quite an amazing feat of aviation.

NTSB Advisory
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594
February 12, 2009

[emphasis added]


The following is an update on the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of US Airways flight 1549, which ditched into the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. The bird remains found in both engines of US Airways flight 1549 have been identified by the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Identification Laboratory as Canada Goose (Branta canadensis).

The lab made the identification for the NTSB through DNA analysis as well as through morphological comparisons in which feather fragments were compared with Canada Goose specimens in the museum’s collections; the microscopic feather samples were compared with reference microslide collections.

A total of 25 samples of bird remains have been examined as of today. Additional analysis will be conducted on samples received from the NTSB to attempt to determine if the Canada Geese were resident or migratory. While no determination has been made about how many birds the aircraft struck or how many were ingested into the engines, an adult Canada Goose typically ranges in size from 5.8 to 10.7 pounds, however larger individual resident birds can exceed published records.

The accident aircraft was powered by two CFM56-5B/P turbofan engines. The bird ingestion standard in effect when this engine type was certified in 1996 included the requirement that the engine must withstand the ingestion of a four-pound bird without catching fire, without releasing hazardous fragments through the engine case, without generating loads high enough to potentially compromise aircraft structural components, or without losing the capability of being shut down. The certification standard does not require that the engine be able to continue to generate thrust after ingesting a bird four pounds or larger.

NTSB investigators worked closely with wildlife biologists from the United States Department of Agriculture, both at the scene of the accident in New York City and during the engine teardowns at the manufacturer’s facility in Cincinnati, to extract all of the organic material that was identified today.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s