Author Topic: Sully addresses Flight Safety and Threats in Charlotte  (Read 3567 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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Sully addresses Flight Safety and Threats in Charlotte
« on: January 26, 2023, 06:31:05 AM »

Fourteen years after he landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, an achievement that made him a hero and a prominent, outspoken safety advocate, Captain C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger visited Charlotte, where a museum commemorating the event was renamed in his honor.

The incident on Jan. 15, 2009, brought national recognition to Sullenberger, First Officer Jeff Skiles, and three flight attendants as professionals committed to aviation safety. The flight took off from LaGuardia bound for Charlotte, but lost power in both engines due to a bird strike.

Sullenberger visited Charlotte on Thursday, the day after a computer failure shut down the Federal Aviation Administration’s Notice to Air Missions systems, which provides safety information to pilots. On Wednesday, the shutdown caused 1,300 flight cancellations and 10,000 delays.
In an interview, Sullenberger decried the NOTAM failure, but said it must be seen as an opportunity for needed improvement. “Don’t waste a crisis,” he said. “When we do have public attention, we need to take advantage of that and act on it, (because)what I know for sure is that hoping you can continue to be lucky is never an effective strategy.”

Blame for the failure should be “shared between the American people, Congress, the DOT and the FAA,” Sullenberger said. But more important is addressing the problem, which “requires two things — public awareness of the problem and the political will to act to solve it. Those commodities are perishable; they only exist for a short period, until we are on to the next shiny object.”
“We’ve seen this movie before,” he said. “It’s important that we not keep fixing the old jalopy to see if we can keep it running – making smaller investments that are band aids when we need major investments to update critical systems.”

The museum, scheduled to open by the end of 2023, will be called the Sullenberger Aviation Museum. It is intended not only to commemorate a historic event in airline safety but also to expand opportunities for members of underserved communities to participate in aviation, which Sullenberger called “one of the most transformative industries in the world.”
“Never in my wildest dream did I ever think I’d have a museum named after me, especially when I’m still alive,” Sullenberger said in an interview. He retired in 2010 after 30 years as a pilot for US Airways and predecessor PSA.

Sullenberger’s life is now largely devoted to advocating for aviation safety, often as a keynote speaker. In recent years he seems to have had his finger in the dike seeking to mitigate mounting safety threats. These include a growing push for single pilot cockpits, an effort by cellphone companies to build 5G towers near airports and Boeing’s doomed effort to reduce costs despite safety implications.

The idea that commercial aircraft could fly with a single pilot “has been floated, primarily for economic reasons,” Sullenberger said. “It’s a dumb, dangerous and ironically unnecessary risk.”

“Some people say we have a terrible pilot shortage and this is the way to fix it, but that’s looking at the problem in the wrong way,” he said. “If we were having a hard time attracting primary care physicians to rural mountain areas, would we reduce medical school from four years to two? No, we’d say that’s crazy, because it is crazy. Rather than lower standards to meet an imagined crisis we should be finding ways to attract and retain people.”

Perhaps the Sullenberger museum can help, he noted: “Part of the reason for the museum is not just to inspire and elevate people but also to provide a well-defined pathway to get people to a professional aviation career.”

On Thursday, Air Line Pilots Association Chairman Jason Ambrosi praised Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, noting that they worked together to make an emergency landing that saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew after Flight 1549 lost its engines following a bird strike.

“Two highly qualified and fully experienced professional pilots are the foundation upon which our aviation system is built,” Ambrosi said in a prepared statement. “There is no automated or remotely operated replacement for the collaboration, communication, and airplane feel made possible by having at least two pilots on the flight deck.

“This is a critical year as Congress begins work on the next FAA reauthorization,” Ambrosi said. “ALPA will remain resolute in opposing any efforts to weaken the safest aviation system in the world, including any attempt to reduce the number of crewmembers on the flight deck. While money may talk in Washington, the safety of the flying public and our flight crews is not for sale,” he said.

Another threat, which emerged in 2022, was the effort by cell phone companies to erect towers close to airports, Sullenberger called it not only a “crazy and unnecessary indication of the absolute hubris of the telecoms, uncaring about real serious safety issues on the part of aviation, “ but also a government failure, because “you have gray areas of independent federal agencies in different domains” that don’t collaborate or even communicate about a critical safety issue.

“There was no adult in the room to force the FAA and the FCC to show each other real data and have a real conversation,” he said. (FCC is Federal Communications Commission.) “FCC should never have auctioned the spectrum they did when, for 60 years, radio altimeters were built to use a spectrum that did not have adjacent interference.” Now, he said, older radio altimeters must be replaced or have filters added, a time-consuming and expensive project that will cost millions of dollars.

As for Boeing’s calamitous cost-saving effort to reduce pilot training for the 737 MAX, Sullenberger said the outcome, which included two fatal crashes, shows what happens when companies don’t take seriously the importance of quality, safety and good governance, especially in cases where good governance and an effective safety culture encourage instances of self-reporting safety threats.

Rather, at many U.S. companies, “we find that the people running our major corporations are almost never subject matter experts: they are all corporate experts,” he said. At Boeing, he said, the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas exacerbated negative trends, which increased in 2001 when the headquarters was moved to Chicago from Seattle, where most of the manufacturing took place. Now Boeing plans another headquarters move to Arlington, Va.

“I give a lot of talks about leadership and governance and corporate culture,” Sullenberger said. “But I have not found a business school that teaches the subject of safety, even though there is a strong and compelling case for safety because if you get it right up front, the improvements always pay for themselves.”
« Last Edit: January 26, 2023, 07:00:53 AM by dave »