January 6, 2011—It’s taken over two years, but the Airbus A320 that landed in New York’s Hudson River in January 2009 as it was en route to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport may finally get to its destination.
The New York Times reported last week that the Carolinas Aviation Museum is finalizing a purchase with Chartis, the aircraft insurer that owns the plane made famous when Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles successfully landed US Airways 1549 in the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese that took out both of its engines. All of its 155 passengers survived.
The museum plans to display the fully assembled aircraft in the same configuration it was in when it was pulled from the water. The display is intended as a celebration of advancements in modern commercial aviation that made the Hudson River landing not that “miraculous.”
The Airbus airframe is currently in storage in New Jersey following completion of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
CAM President Shawn Dorsch said his inspiration for the exhibit came from a Japanese Airlines display. The chronological exhibit showed how safety enhancements in the more than 20 years since the crash of JAL 123 contributed to all the things that went right for US Airways 1549, which was the final entry in the exhibit’s timeline. “I realized then that US Airways 1549 had worldwide appeal and historical significance,” Dorsch said.
The first stage of the project begins soon as museum officials will travel to New Jersey to catalog every item on the airplane, right down to the cans of soda on the beverage carts. Sullenberger is also contributing to the exhibit by donating the uniform he wore that day.
“I am delighted that the airplane will be displayed at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, which was not only the destination of Flight 1549, but also the city that many of the passengers call home,” Sullenberger said in a statement to EAA. “I appreciate that the aircraft will be displayed intact—it is an important part of aviation history and I am glad people will have access to it and be inspired by a remarkable event that has touched so many lives.”
Transport of the aircraft is slated for May, and Dorsch hopes the main elements, such as the wings and tail, will be reattached to the fuselage by the end of the summer.
In addition, the interim mayor of Charlotte is leading the effort to raise $250,000 needed to help the plane reach its final destination. Actually getting the airliner’s remains from a New Jersey warehouse to Charlotte will be up to the generosity of Charlotte’s citizens and whomever else might want to kick in. “We are in tough economic times right now,” Interim Mayor Patrick Cannon told WIS TV. “And so all you can do is make the ask and that’s what we’ll do.”
The Flight 1549 Airbus at its current home in a warehouse in Kearny, New Jersey. Photo credit: Shawn A. Dorsch
Shawn A. Dorsch, president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, on a recent visit to the plane at the New Jersey warehouse.