Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

“Don’t you worry about your Pilot in his line of work?” Errrrrrr……


Not much about Bf’s chosen career unsettles me, but the US airways Airbus A320 (flight 1539) that crashed into the Hudson River, New York managed to ruffle my feathers last night as we watched the news unfolding on the Internet.  The best website on the story that I have found (including many video updates) is CTV.ca.  If you are a nervous flyer, I suggest you don’t read this (that’s you RB). 

The Captain of doomed Flight 1549 was Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, 57, of Danville, Calif., a former fighter jet pilot who also runs a flight safety firm in addition to flying commercial planes; and his co-pilot was Jeffrey Skiles.  Thankfully though, all 155 passengers including a baby made it off alive without any major injuries after their water landing! CTV.ca reported that:

An air traffic controllers union official said a pilot on the plane reported a “double bird strike” less than a minute after takeoff and immediately asked for an emergency landing.

It is believed both engines were hit by a bird, possible an entire flock.

National Air Traffic Controllers Union spokesman Doug Church said the bird strikes were reported at 30 to 45 seconds into the flight.

The pilot was instructed to divert to Teterboro, New Jersey, for an emergency landing, shortly before the plane went down.

Bird strikes are actually not uncommon for commercial aviation, and most strikes do not cause damage

The FAA says there were about 65,000 bird strikes to civil aircraft in the U.S. between 1990 to 2005. But actual crashes caused by bird are rare.

Aircraft safety analyst Joseph Yeremian told CTV Newsnet that airplane engines are actually tested by putting chickens through them, but there are no guarantees with all the variables of actual flight.

He said a combination of a flock of birds, the cold temperature and perhaps a fault in the engines could have combined to disable the plane.

I am aware that bird strikes are not uncommon. In fact there is an awesome video of a Thomson Fly Bird Strike from Manchester on youtube that you can see here. This video was caught by a plane spotter, who also recorder all of the pilot radio communications with Air Traffic Control.  In this case, they simply shut down the engine that ingested the large bird, and safely returned to the same runway some time later.

The thought however, that Bf could encounter a flock of birds somewhere cold, and perhaps not have a river or runway close enough to perform an emergency landing on, did play on my mind somewhat as we watched the news together.  Birds do after all, tend to fly in flocks at the cooler times of year, often as they migrate. 

Whilst it is reassuring to know that most bird strikes do not result in major incidents, the next time someone asks me that stupid question ‘Don’t you worry about your man’s safety in his line of work?’  I may just hesitate a moment before I respond no, as opposed to my usually confident response that it’s the safest form of travel.

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8 Responses to ““Don’t you worry about your Pilot in his line of work?” Errrrrrr……”

  1. Amen rant.

    Even when Taylor had his big birdstrike last year, I know he knew his flows and profiles, he and the captain did everything by the book, and they were able to have a safe landing despite all of the damage to the plane.

    He was a hero to 44 passengers that day. They even took pictures of him.

    As Taylor always says, “It’s safer flying than driving to the airport!”

  2. Bird strikes are not that big a deal because most of the twin engine airplanes can fly on a single engine, but unfortunately for flight 1549 both the engines had bird strikes causing both engines to fail. Since the airplane generates all its power from the engines, there isn’t much power left. In that case all you do is glide the aircraft to some place where you can land safely.

    The investigations are still on and soon we will know if the Pilot Sully could have it made it back to the airport rather than landing on water.

    I love the second video. I think it is the only video which showsthe bird strike in detail.

  3. Airline Blogger – I know that bird strikes aren’t normally that big a deal. Just the thought that a flock of geese could down a passenger jet is a little unnerving. I agree about the second video. It was awesome work on the part of the spotter!

    Nicole – It must have been a nice experience for Taylor (the praise, not the bird strike). I know that they usually get little praise for what they do.

  4. My guy is US Airways, and as soon as I heard about it I logged online, trying not to panic, trying to find out what kind of plane it was before freaking out. At least if it wasn’t a 737, I’d know he was okay. That was my first brush with something like this, and it was TOUGH. I still kind of feel like I might throw up, just thinking about it! I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to him about it (which would do quite a bit to settle my nerves), but from everything I’ve seen and heard, that was some amazing flying/landing. And I think all the “kudos” go to the Captain, the FO, and the flight attendents.

  5. delightfuleccentric – I don’t envy you that experience at all! Luckily, I can only imagine how you must have felt.

  6. Thank goodness disaster was averted – it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened.

    The only thing that has irked me a little with the coverage is that all kudos and praise goes to the Captain. I’ve not heard one person mention the FO! It could easily have been the FO actually flying the aircraft, and even if it wasn’t, the two work in a close partnership to fly and land the aircraft safely.

    Also the flight attendents have done a fantastic job by the looks of it – a few people have mentioned and praised them , but not that much.

    This was a similar case with the crash landing made by the BA plane not so long ago at Heathrow – a massive fuss was made over ‘George Clooney look-a-like’ Captain – yet when he gave his statement to the press – it turned out it had been the FO flying.

    Give a little credit to the team people!

  7. the only thing that bothers me about all this is the publicity that the pilot had, and nothing was said about the copilot, you all know that it takes two to tango on this bussiness
    thanks,

  8. Very true! AND Sully did nothing to rectify this either-just soaked up all of the media attention like a sponge!


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