Jan 16, 2009

Hudson River Saga


Check out the animated graphic of the flight profile at the above link: Assuming this is an accurate flight path - I wonder if Captain Sullenberger, after realizing that both engines could not be restarted and Teterboro was too far way began lining up to land on a road or if he immediately chose the river ditching? See how the flight path jogs?

Did he have time to think about the likely outcome of a "landing" on a road (collisions with medians, signs, cars, light stands, buildings, overpasses and the mass death and destruction that would ensue) and compare this with the chances for a successful ditching in the river? Or was the river his first "target" and he was maneuvering to avoid boat traffic? I look forward to hearing his thoughts as all this unfolded. The report doesn't mention the total time frame or altitude reached, but I'm sure the captain didn't have a lot of time to ponder the choices.

That was an amazing piece of airmanship and the entire flight crew deserves respect for "doing what they are paid to do," so well! As one salty old flight instructor used to tell me: "That's why we get paid the big bucks." Certainly deserved in this case.

We seldom practice an "all engines dead" situation in the simulator, but most pilots will take some time to at least think about it and if possible "play" with the scenario in the flight simulator.




Soaring Student said...

As a student pilot, my wife took a little time to quiz me this morning about this bird strike event. I'll blog about my thought over on my blog, but the success of this recovery summarizes down to three points:

- From the start of the pilot's training, we are constantly taught to think "what would I do if....". The actual flying of a forced landing is routine flying, albeit performed under stressful conditions,

- The key thing which kept them alive was the success of the on-water landing. That was truly exceptional - normally one engine will dig in, and then you rip off a wing and cartwheel the airplane (767 in the Indian Ocean). Being a glider pilot, the Captain was familiar with dead-stick landings,

- The core skill - the one that makes all the difference in this and similar situations - is the don't give-up attitude. Evaluate the situation, make a choice, implement it, re-evaluate. And no matter how ugly things get, there is still something you can do.

My wife is somewhat re-assured.

I've been looking for a recording on LiveATC, but haven't found it yet. The transcript from the CVR will be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Let us know if you find the live ATC "tapes" ...

Peter said...

From reading through the forum at LiveATC, there is apparently no feed from the departure frequency at LGA. Thus there are seemingly no recordings at LiveATC either from that or any other frequencies.

There is surveillance video of the actual touchdown: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/01/17/vo.surveillance.plane.cnn

Miss Mabel said...

More tech-ee info so far:


Aluwings said...

Someone on the FL390 blog pointed out the location of the George Washington bridge and suggests it may be the reason for that jog in the flight path - not wanting to fly too low over the towers and double-level structure. I suspect that's the reason. I've flown high above that bridge several times, but didn't realize it was that high:
George Washington Bridge