Could trash near airport reek of crash risk?

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Captain Chesley Sullenberger are butting heads over whether a proposed garbage facility next door to LaGuardia Airport will attract dangerous flocks of birds to the city’s already congested airspace.

The city is planning to build a 100-foot-high garbage facility within a half-mile of the airport’s runways, to open in 2013. “Nobody thinks it’s going to attract geese,” Bloomberg said confidently.
But Sullenberger, who famously guided U.S. Airways Flight 1549 to safety on the Hudson River after it took off from LaGuardia and birds flew into both engines, disagrees.

“It’s not wise,” he told Metro. “The birds will learn that there’s food there, and they will keep returning.”

Sully said the garbage would add one more thing to a list of pilots’ worries when flying into New York.

“We’re adding more to that responsibility, unnecessarily,” he said.

And he was not pacified by promises that the trash would be checked for leaks, and that spikes will be added to thwart birds. Any bird attracted to rotting food, even a small starling, can be dangerous, Sullenberger said.

“You don’t need a goose to have catastrophic damage to an engine,” he said.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.


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