NTSB set to pore over wreckage of US Airways jet

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(AP) - Investigators are taking a closer look at thedamage to a battered US Airways jetliner that crashed in the HudsonRiver and a black-box recording that revealed the thumping soundthat cut the plane's two engines and a pilot's "Mayday" call. National Transportation Safety Board investigators plannedMonday to pore over the wreckage of the jetliner that was towed toa New Jersey marina, looking at engine damage believed to have beencaused by a flock of birds. A search for a left engine and othermissing pieces of the plane was suspended for two days because oficy weather. A senior NTSB official said the probe of a plane that safelylanded without killing any of the 155 people aboard may ultimatelyfocus more on what went right than what went wrong. "This accident and this investigation are going to be studiedfor years and years and years," said Robert Benzon, a veteranNational Transportation Safety Board investigator. "Why dideverything work so well? "We need to know that so we can apply it to other phases ofaviation, other aircraft, perhaps newer aircraft. It's going to befun." NTSB investigators detailed the findings on Sunday of a cockpitvoice recording that captured "the sound of thumps and a rapiddecrease in engine sounds," NTSB member Kitty Higgins said. "The captain makes radio call to ATC (air traffic control)calling Mayday and reports that they hit birds, lost both enginesand were returning to LaGuardia" airport, Higgins said. The pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who had only flown ashigh as 3,200 feet, then discussed alternate landings at New Jerseyairports before deciding to attempt a river landing, she said.Ninety seconds before landing, he told passengers to "brace forimpact" and "the captain informs ATC that they will be in theHudson River," Higgins said. The dispatches on the recordings were described as "a verycalm, collected exercise," Benzon said. Said Higgins: "It wasvery matter of fact." Under a heavy snowfall Sunday night, tugboats pulled the bargecarrying the Airbus A320 from a seawall a few blocks from the WorldTrade Center site on a 90-minute trip to the Weeks Marina in JerseyCity, N.J. The barge carrying the aircraft and another carrying a largecrane arrived at a loading dock on the marina's outskirts, not farfrom a site where BMW automobiles are unloaded and stored. Investigators want to look more closely at the cockpit, theattached engine, and the interior of the cabin, Higgins said. Theyalready have seen significant damage to the tail and tocompartments at the bottom of the plane that opened on impact. Theengine was severely dented but its fan blades were intact, Benzonsaid. Higgins heaped praises on the flight crew, noting they all had20 or more years experience and were trained to do their jobs. "Miracles happen because a lot of everyday things happen foryears and years and years," she said. "These people knew whatthey were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, nobodylost their life." Sullenberger had been scheduled to give his first publicinterview on Monday morning to NBC "Today" show host Matt Lauer,but the appearance was canceled Sunday at the request of the U.S.Airline Pilots Association. "The Sullenbergers continue to thank their many well-wishersfor the incredible outpouring of support," the family said in astatement. The mayor of his hometown, Danville, Calif., said the pilot andhis family were attending President-elect Barack Obama'sinauguration on Tuesday. An Obama aide said Sunday evening thefamily had been invited, speaking on condition of anonymity becausedetails were still being worked out. The area where the barge was moored in New York was closed tothe public Sunday, but it attracted hundreds of residents andtourists, who snapped pictures of the plane wreckage. Kelsey Higginbotham, a 20-year-old student at East TennesseeState University, peered at the crippled aircraft Sunday frombehind police barricades. She and a friend had been to Times Square, Central Park and thesite of the World Trade Center, where nearly 2,800 people werekilled in the Sept. 11 attacks. She said she was struck by thecontrast between one disaster in which so many people died andanother in which everyone survived. "It's a miracle," she said. "I guess New Yorkers can't takeany more tragedy."US Air plane plunges into Hudson, everyone survives

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