The air traffic controller asked Captain Sullenberger on United flight 1549 that January day nearly eight years ago "What do you need to land".
"We can't do it. We're going to be in the Hudson" Capt. Sullenberger replied.
Hearing Capt. Sullenberger repeat the refrain from that fateful flight in person gave me goosebumps. We were lucky enough to hear Captain Chester "Sully" Sullenberger speak at a travel conference last week. He spoke about all he has learned since the Miracle on the Hudson, describing the circumstances and the luck of having the right crew and the right resources in place to allow a positive outcome of the plane crash.
If you have seen the movie "Sully" you'll learn about what happened after the crash the with NTSB. (We won't spoil it). The room was absolutely silent as over 500 travel agents listened to Capt. Sullenberger described in his amazingly calm voice his thoughts on that day. Capt. Sullenberger credited his training as an Air Force pilot to help guide his decisions that had to be made in that fateful 208 seconds.
"Sully" is now a consultant on airline safety as well as an airline expert for CBS. The NTSB and FAA spent 28 months studying his actions on that day and the NTSB made 35 recommendations of changes by the airlines to increase passenger safety. Only six have been implemented. Why? Because the airline lobby in Washington is too strong and fights safety proposals to save money. Mandating the airlines provide life vests instead of a flotation device is one of the recommendations that hasn't been adopted.
Captain Sullenberger is frustrated by the inaction of the airlines. According to a story from the Associated Press "Fourteen of the recommendations issued to the Federal Aviation Administration and its European counterpart, EASA, are marked by the NTSB as "closed-unacceptable," which means that regulators rejected the advice. One has been withdrawn, and the rest remain unresolved." (Click here to read the AP story.)
These are not impossible - here are a few from the report:
What can you do to support these changes? Write to your State Congressman and Senators. Tell them you want the FAA and airlines to implement the safety recommendations made after this crash. This is one of the few crashes that everyone survived and the investigators were able to speak to the pilots and flight crew.
When you are on your next flight - read the safety instructions and listen to the FA's during the demonstration. I can tell you that on our return flight home, I actually did pay attention to the safety demonstration.