Hudson River Landing
On January 15, 2009, a US Airways Airbus A320-214 struck a flock of geese, lost power, and ditched in the Hudson River by New York City. All aboard left the airplane safely due not only to the skill with which the pilots landed, but because the plane did not immediately sink. That it did not sink was due to its design, verified by testing.
This behavior of the Airbus during ditching had been predicted by model testing:
- engine separation
- detached wing fairings
- failure of the rear fuselage baggage door with resultant flooding
- aircraft skin deformation and rupture
Airbus in the Hudson River
AP Photo/Steven Day
- A model is built at 1:8 to 1:14 scale often of balsa wood
- The model is weighted and balanced to match the airplane being simulated
- It is fitted with sensors
- Waves are generated in a tank of water to simulate sea conditions
- It is launched into the tank using a catapult powered by falling weights
- Photographs and sensor data are collected.
Pilots sometimes observe the tests and participate in the analysis.
Water entry - airplane model under test
TRaC, Warwick, UK