Hudson River airport plans scrapped

hudsonNEW YORK – The recent crash between a small plane and a helicopter full of tourists over New York’s Hudson River has claimed more than human lives – it has also scuttled plans to use the river as a New York City airport.

The Hudson River Airport Authority has worked for 15 years to turn the waterway into a world class airport. Although some skeptics thought the water was “too soft” to support the weight of a full-size airliner, engineers insisted it could be done.

During a January 2009 feasibility study by Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the expert pilot demonstrated new landing techniques developed for the airport, as he carefully steered his Airbus A320 into a flock of Canada geese, which reduced his aircraft’s speed and coated it in buoyant goose grease, then gently landed it on the surface of the river without breaking through the skin of the water. Sullenberg described the landing as “easy-peasy”.

The stunt landing proved to a doubtful public that the river could be a safe and inexpensive airstrip. The phrase “land it on the Hudson” has been on all lips in recent months, as campaigners demanded more of the impressive splash-landings.

But, in the wake of the public outcry over the latest crash, New York politicians have permanently canceled plans for full-scale landings on the river in September – plans which could have seen as many as 1300 aircraft splash down every day, after being slowed by specially bred flocks of geese.

HRAA project head Rancine Mercator describes the cancellation as “a huge error”, pointing out the many economic advantages of an aquatic airport. “The Hudson has a flat surface and a convenient location. Landing a plane on the Hudson automatically washes the engines. At most airports, this dirty job must be carried out at high cost by unionized engine-washers. A river landing also means the pilots don’t wear out the tire rubber on their planes.”

But the biggest benefit, ironically, would have been safety. Said Mercator, “Planes are often engulfed in fire as they land. In an old-fashioned airport, we have to use fire engines – and foam is expensive. But when they land in a river, the water dowses the flames instantly. It’s nature’s way, in a jet airliner sense.”

Investigators believe that the pilot of the crashed plane may have been been trying to duplicate Sullenberger’s famous landing. It is thought the pilot flew into the deadlly whirling blades of a helicopter believing that he was aiming for a flock of plump, gently padded Canada geese.

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