The pilot who successfully ditched a US Airways jet following a bird strike three years ago has joined the effort to stop construction of a garbage transfer facility near LaGuardia Airport.
Capt. Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger has recorded a public service announcement for Friends of LaGuardia Airport, which has been fighting construction on the grounds that the station will draw birds that will threaten air traffic. The city denies the charge, claiming that the facility will be completely enclosed.
The station sits across a channel from the airport, less than 2,200 feet from the end of LaGuardia’s Runway 31.
“In 2009, my crew and I were forced to land our flight filled with passengers in the Hudson River after a catastrophic bird strike,” Sullenberger says in a video and script obtained from Friends of LaGuardia Airport. “They called it a miracle. Everyone knows we have a serious bird safety issue at LaGuardia Airport. That is why I am strongly opposed to the city’s construction of a garbage transfer facility next to LaGuardia’s Runway 31.”
In January 2009 impact from a flock of geese destroyed both engines on Sullenberger’s Airbus jet as it took off from LaGuardia with 155 passengers and crew about three minutes after takeoff.
With no power, Teterboro Airport in New Jersey out of reach and a return to LaGuardia deemed impossible, Sullenberger and copilot Jeff Skiles brought the plane down in the Hudson with no loss of life.
Friends of LaGuardia Airport contends that the facility will draw birds looking to feed on the more than 3,000 tons of trash per day at the facility and the rats attracted to it.
A bird strike in April forced a Delta jet with 179 on board to make an emergency return to Kennedy Airport.
The group also claims the city pressured the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the area’s three major airports, to accept the location. The city claims that the trash facility will be enclosed and will not attract wildlife.