The Flight 1549 accident in an immersive 360-degree view at 4K resolution. This project has taught pilots many lessons over time and the release of Warner Bros “Sully” seemed seems like perfect timing to once again share this experience. I meticulously studied the NTSB docket to prepare this reconstruction and hopefully Eastwood, Hanks, Skiles, Sully, and others took some time to review and reflect on this data-driven timeline as they worked towards accurately portraying this story. See http://bit.ly/15493D for more comprehensive background.
The radar view inset is oriented to north-up and, though difficult to read, provides some spatial and situational reference at times. This is best viewed on two monitors at once, start two copies simultaneously and use one for radar reference and the other for exploring. Alternative, use this video on screen number two, it’s an excellent visual of the dialog of all facilities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjXCulRjPas
On desktop, click-drag to look around. On phone, click drag with your finger, or point your phone if it has accelerometers. If you have Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Oculus, or other 3D gear, you’re in for a treat. You CAN see the birds coming before they hit, listen for when the controller just says “everyday” and then look north ahead of the aircraft, birds will hit about 12 seconds later.
Don’t forget FO Jeff Skiles and Patrick Harten (the voice of ATC you hear most), they both did a great job.
Some important points:
1) Yes, they could have made it back to LaGuardia or to Teterboro, but only with an immediate turn and it wasn’t guaranteed success.
2) Yes, the birds were available on raw radar returns. Yes, it is completely feasible to further process data and recognize birds from primary radar in real-time.
3) Sully and Skiles met the first time a few days prior and this was their first flight together. Skiles had never flown this particular model of aircraft except in a simulator.
4) Both Sully and ATC incorrectly called the flight 1529 or 1539 (1549 being the actual number).
5) At least one flight crew member and at one passenger commented that they did not know the aircraft landed on water and assumed they were back at LaGuardia.
6) Skiles did an awesome job of reverting to checklists, supporting the Captain with information callouts.
7) There was NO checklist for dual engine failure at low altitude and the only available checklist was designed for use at high altitudes where the pilots would have plenty of time to troubleshoot.
8) Many people scoff at Harten, the ATC voice who suggested Newark was at 2 O’Clock and 7 miles, while the aircraft was at a few hundred feet and obviously not going to make Newark. Mr. Harten, however, noticed the aircraft gaining altitude on radar and thought they may have regained power and was offering up options.
9) Skiles read and acknowledged a checklist item “ATC notify, squawk 7700” – pilot speak for setting the plane to issue an emergency signal. However, neither Skiles nor Sullenberger actually set the transponder to 7700.
10) Sully declared a “Mayday” which is an official way to let ATC know this is a real emergency, but the transmission was blocked for a few seconds and ATC never heard the mayday.
11) ATC called the aircraft “Cactus”, which goes back to the roots of US Airways in Airzona, and this confused the port authority. Precious time lost.
12) Many passengers egressed the aircraft from an exit that was NOT their closest.
13) One passenger responded to a survey question “Did the pre-flight safety presentation help during the evacuation?” as follows: “I was asleep.” Please pay attention and be prepared.
14) Many passengers didn’t bother, or could not successfully, retrieve a life vest prior to evacuation.
One of the most hotly debated issues I’ve seen is whether or not 1549 could have returned to LaGuardia or diverted successfully to Teterboro. Airbus and the NTSB collaborated on an effort to have pilots attempt this in the engineering simulator at Airbus facilities in France. All in all, about half of the pilots made it to a runway but the other half didn’t do so well.
For further FACTUAL discussion on this topic, the reader should follow-up on a FOIA which I issued to NTSB requesting the detailed data from the engineering simulations. My belief and understanding, based on reviewing the available NTSB/Airbus report, is that the 20 to 30 second delay in assessing the situation was an important deciding factor and that Sully and Skiles probably made a good piloting decision to sink a $40M aircraft in the Hudson….not an easy choice.
Do yourself a favor the next time you fly. Start a timer when the airplane begins to accelerate. Enjoy your view. At two minutes elapsed, imagine the engines are now on fire. At four minutes, imagine hearing the captain tell you to “Brace for Impact”, and at six minutes remind yourself that were you on Flight 1549, you’d be swimming in the Hudson.