National/World

NTSB: Sully did the right thing

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew made the right decision by ditching their plane in the Hudson River, according to the final report of the National Transportation Safety Board.

For the investigation, test pilots used simulators to recreate the accident on the Hudson. They made it back to La Guardia, suggesting Sullenberger could have done the same.

ABC7 aviation analyst Ron Wilson, a pilot himself, got on a simulator at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos to show ABC7 if this would be possible.

"So to simulate this, the throttles are idle on the simulator, so we have no power," Wilson said.

Wilson began at the exact place where Sullenberger ran into trouble -- five miles from La Guardia, 3,200 feet in the air.

"We are going to initiate a left turn, no power in an attempt to get back to La Guardia," he said.

Wilson made a sharp turn and passed over the Hudson River.

"Losing altitude there, losing air speed," he said.

The plane basically became a 70-ton glider. As he tried to get closer to La Guardia, all sorts of warning signals go off.

Wilson never made it in the simulator, crashing into the Hudson.

But similar emergency simulations were performed by Airbus at their headquarters in Toulouse, France. Their test pilots made it back to La Guardia safely.

Capt. Richard Deeds is a retired pilot and flight safety consultant. He says, missing were the real-life conditions.

"They've studied it, they have optimized everything ahead of time, planned everything out and so that is not being in the position to have it happen," he said. "There is so much going on in the cockpit at that time he has to wonder, 'What happened, I've lost power, can I regain power? Where am I going to land?'"

Sullenberger landed the plane on the Hudson with no casualties and was instantly hailed a hero.

"I think he did a terrific job and I don't think he should even be questioned as to the potential of him possibly getting back o La Guardia," Wilson said.

Sullenberger declined to comment on Tuesday's announcement.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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