NEW YORK - Divers searching for an engine that broke off a US Airways plane after it hit a flock of birds and safely splashed down in the Hudson River last week found it Wednesday in hard mud about 65 feet below the surface of the murky, frigid water.
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board, already examining the rest of the Airbus A320, discovered a feather attached to one of the plane's wings. The feather was being sent to bird identification experts at the Smithsonian Institution.
In the search for the left engine, New York Police Department and New Jersey State Police harbor officers working with a sonar expert from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration got a reading on the river floor Tuesday of an object 16 feet long and 8 feet wide near where Flight 1549 made its emergency landing.
Divers went into the water around 2:35 p.m. Wednesday and located the engine in about 10 minutes, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
The Army Corps of Engineers dropped a 1,500-pound concrete anchor with a light attached near where the engine was thought to be. NYPD divers Paul Reynolds and Michael Delaney used the anchor line to guide themselves down to the engine and were within 2 feet of it. Delaney was involved in the rescue efforts after the Jan. 15 crash, pulling passengers from the icy water.
Reynolds said that when he reached the river bottom he saw an eerie glow of red and blue from the engine.
"When I hit it, I knew right away it was part of the wreckage," Reynolds said. "I could see writing on it, 'Open hatch here,' that type of thing."
Divers had been unable to locate the object found Tuesday after running out of daylight and being stifled by swift currents that made it impossible to drop a robotic device with a video camera to confirm whether it was the engine.
Investigators want to closely inspect the engine once it is pulled from the water to better understand if it conked out after hitting a flock of birds shortly after the plane's takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.
The NTSB said salvage crews were working with federal, state and local agencies to recover the engine, likely on Thursday. The rest of the plane was taken by barge to a Jersey City, N.J., marina over the weekend to be studied by investigators. On-scene work was expected to last through the week and plans were being made to move the plane to a more permanent location.
An examination of the fan blades from the right engine showed soft-body impact damage, the NTSB said. The engine's electronic control unit was missing, and numerous internal components of the engine were significantly damaged.
The NTSB said organic material was found in the right engine and on the wings and fuselage. Samples of the material were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for DNA analysis.
Investigators also were interviewing passengers about their experiences. The baggage left on the plane was being removed, and crews were working to return the items.
Police have already located several pieces of debris from the flight, including 35 flotation seat cushions, 12 life jackets, 15 pieces of luggage, two briefcases, 11 purses, 15 suit jackets and shirts, four shoes and two hats, Browne said. The plane's right engine was still attached to the body of the plane.
The Airbus A320 crash-landed in the Hudson after hitting the birds and losing thrust in both engines. All 155 people on board the flight, which had been bound for Charlotte, N.C., survived.