SULLY… the miracle of the Hudson
Apart from the audience attracting title I found this Tom Hanks film quite entertaining.
It was faithful to the facts and the initial doubting of the pilots decision was all part of the story line but in real life it was very unlikely that the Flight Data Readouts (FDR) would have been wrong.
Some of the airline training that I do was highlighted in the film. It’s called CRM, Crew Resource management and it’s concerned with the way the pilots interact as people and the effect it has on their ability to perform well as a crew. Pilots would normally have about an hour to prepare for a flight and the industry now stresses that not only must the crew be prepared technically, they must use proven methods to ‘connect’ as a crew. It’s vital that the pilots can work in a state of professional harmony, with respect and without being offended by casual throw away lines that, in normal life wouldn’t matter.
This was well illustrated in the film where the Co-pilot mentions to the Captain that he thought the Captain was running a very large aviation safety network on the internet when in fact it was just a one man band. It would have been simple for the Captain to have become defensive and guarded and for the co-pilot to have become disrespectful of what the Captain’s website was about. BUT they agreed to smile about it and having exchanged a few pleasantries continued with their duties.
Now this may seem trivial but remember if either pilot had been offended by the conversation it may have resulted in a slight antipathy developing between them, not a pile of beans in reality but one of those situations that in social life might have developed into an feeling of competitiveness. If that had happened the teamwork that was required on this day might not have been as good as it turned out to be.
The point I want to make is that the airline industry in the training of its pilots recognises that pilots are HUMAN and are subject to feelings that in the past have been shown to be the cause of accidents. We are not prima donnas with overblown egos, just ordinary people who can be offended or pleased easily, just like anyone else. In an office or at home these problems are unlikely to lead to a breakdown of communications that could result in people dying. Most of the time we can walk away from circumstances that irritate and offend us. In the confinement of an aircraft cockpit the personal relationships can spiral downwards quickly.
We commit a great deal of time to developing skills to fly an airliner safely. Much of that time is devoted to what we call Human Factors.
The crew depicted in this film showed excellent Crew Resource Management … you’ll hardly notice it.
Without it this flight could have ended in disaster.