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Jetliner probe finds possible bird remains

Sample from engine sent for identification

By Joan Lowry
Associated Press / January 22, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Investigators said yesterday they have found the remains of what may be a bird in the engine of the US Airways jet that made a dramatic landing in New York's Hudson River.

The National Transportation Safety Board said an examination of the Airbus A320's right engine revealed evidence of "soft body damage" and that "organic material" was found in the engine and on the wings and fuselage. Samples of the material have gone to the Agriculture Department for a complete DNA analysis, the board said.

A single feather was found attached to a flap track on the wing and will be examined by specialists at the Smithsonian Institution.

The pilot of Flight 1549, Chesley Sullenberger, reported a "double bird strike" and a loss of power in both engines before bringing the plane to an emergency river landing last week. All 155 people on board the flight to Charlotte, N.C., survived.

The board also reported yesterday that divers located the airliner's left engine in about 50 feet of water near the area of the river where the aircraft ditched. The board said that engine was likely to be recovered today.

On Jan. 13, two days before the accident, the aircraft's right engine experienced a power surge. Subsequent maintenance work included the replacement of a temperature probe. "Investigators from the NTSB's maintenance records group are researching this report by examining applicable maintenance records and procedures," the board said in a statement.

New York Police Department and New Jersey State Police harbor officers working with a sonar specialist from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration got a reading Tuesday of an object 16 feet long and 8 feet wide near the spot where the plane made its emergency landing.

Divers went into the icy, murky water and located the left engine in about 10 minutes, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Investigators want to inspect the engine to better understand how it stopped running after the plane hit a flock of birds shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport.

Most of the Airbus A320 is at a New Jersey marina, where investigators will study it.

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