In addition to the decisions and actions of the flight crewmembers, overwater safety equipment likely saved lives that might have otherwise been lost to drowning, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a recent press release.

The Board met to conclude its 15-month investigation into the January 15, 2009, accident in which a US Airways A320 jetliner bound for Charlotte was ditched into the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canada geese shortly after departing New York’s LaGuardia Airport. All of the 150 passengers and five crewmembers survived.

Investigators said that had the airplane not been equipped with forward slide/rafts, many of the 64 occupants of those rafts would likely have been submerged in the 41-degree Hudson River, potentially causing a phenomenon called “cold shock,” which can lead to drowning in as little as five minutes.

The accident flight had the additional safety equipment available only because the particular aircraft operated that day happened to be certified for extended overwater (EOW) operations even though current FAA regulations did not require the flight from New York to Charlotte to be so equipped.

Good visibility, calm waters, and proximity of passenger ferries, which rescued everyone on flight 1549 within 20 minutes, were other post-accident factors the Safety Board credited with the survival of all aboard the aircraft.

“Once the birds and the airplane collided and the accident became inevitable, so many things went right,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “This is a great example of the professionalism of the crewmembers, air traffic controllers and emergency responders who all played a role in preserving the safety of everyone aboard.”

A synopsis of the Board's report is available on the NTSB's website, at