What Happened to the USAirways Flight?

01.16.2009 | Engineering

University of Dayton researcher's interview with a local television station will air on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Jan. 16.

Kevin Poormon, the UD Research Institute impact physics group leader, talked to local and national media about the USAirways Airbus A320 that ditched into the Hudson River in New York City Jan. 15.

Poormon's group tests the ability of airplanes to withstand bird strikes. It is believed that the US Airways Airbus 320 struck birds shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

"It's a pretty significant problem," Poormon told The Associated Press. "There have been over 200 fatalities in the last 20 years due to bird strikes worldwide and there are 5,000 impacts that are reported every year. Aircraft are being struck every day by birds. The reason you don't hear about them so much is they are designed to take these impacts. But once you get to large flocks or large birds striking at a critical moment, that's where these events hit the news."

About 200 international media outlets picked up the story. Outlets include Gazeta in Poland, MSN Money, G1.com in Brazil, Indopia in India, Forbes, The Guardian in the United Kingdom and The New York Times.

Aaron Altman, a UD associate mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, talked to USA Today and did two interviews with WLW-AM, a 50,000-watt station reaching 38 states and satellite radio, about how the US Airways flight was able to land safely.

"Think of it as a large aluminum boat, or canoe, with a lot of surface area to offset its weight," Altman told USA Today. "Also, the fuel in its tanks is lighter than water, so that helped it to stay afloat for a while."

Altman once worked as an Airbus contractor.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.