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Plane For Sale; Hero Not Included.
January 23, 2010 2:43 PM   Subscribe

New time lapse video [04:48] of the salvage of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 (aka 'Miracle on the Hudson'). The A320 is up for sale. It was put "on the online auction block by the insurance company Chartis...The sale attracted widespread attention within hours on Friday, and Chartis was apparently so inundated by curiosity or online bids that it removed the information from its Web site. Chartis identified the plane only by its registration number and its family name, A320, and yet it was instantly recognizable."
"'Due to the volume of interest in aircraft N106US we will provide additional and necessary information in the near future so that all interested parties can be accommodated,' a statement read on the page listing items for auction. 'Thank you for your interest in the aircraft.'"
Previously on MeFi.
posted by ericb (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, I happened to re-watch the reconstruction video this morning, and I got to thinking that we're probably over-reacting a little bit to the 'miracle hero pilot' story. I would never have mentioned this, but what this FPP, I might as well.

In looking at that video with fresh eyes, I don't think he had any other reasonable option than ditching in the river. And I'm not sure "hero" really applies when you don't have any options. He obviously was a highly, highly skilled pilot, and saved a hell of a lot of people, but it was flawless execution of an emergency landing on water, rather than actual heroics.

In my view, at least, heroism involves a choice somewhere, of being afraid to do something dangerous, and yet doing it anyway, for the benefit of others. And I don't see that Mr. Sullenberger had any real choice to make in this situation. It was land in the river or die in a fireball, so he landed in the river.

Respecting and praising him as a highly competent pilot who kept his cool in an extraordinary situation seems appropriate; calling him a hero seems rather over the top.

My $0.02.
posted by Malor at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Has anyone (such as the NTSB) ever definitively calculated that, mathematically, he could not have glided to Teterboro or somewhere else.
posted by Mid at 3:18 PM on January 23, 2010


You may be more familiar with Chartis by the name AIG. They're one of the bigger aircraft insurers.
posted by Nelson at 3:32 PM on January 23, 2010


Has anyone (such as the NTSB) ever definitively calculated that, mathematically, he could not have glided to Teterboro or somewhere else.

This series of slides from the NY Times gives a really good picture of the flightpath. When they get to their highest altitude, they're pretty far from Teterboro, and it only gets worse from there. It looks pretty clearly in the "not do-able" category to me from those slides.

It looks like they were actually closer to La Guardia, but still too far, and headed away from it as well. The penalty for not making either of those airports seems to involve a good chance of crashing on a populated area. After the Hudson, and those two closest airports, I think they're about out of somewhere elses.
posted by FishBike at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2010


> kept his cool in an extraordinary situation

You're entitled to your opinion of course, but I think you've rather put your finger on the heroic part right here.
posted by adamt at 4:02 PM on January 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some people get so hung up on whether someone is a "hero" or not. He did his job well and that saved a lot of lives and that should be lauded.
posted by smackfu at 4:20 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malor, Your definition of heroism is heroically wrong.

a man distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, fortitude, etc.
2. a man who is idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field

Enjoy your next flight
posted by A189Nut at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


In looking at that video with fresh eyes, I don't think he had any other reasonable option than ditching in the river. And I'm not sure "hero" really applies when you don't have any options. He obviously was a highly, highly skilled pilot, and saved a hell of a lot of people, but it was flawless execution of an emergency landing on water, rather than actual heroics.

Well, I think the "heroic" part applies to actually pulling it off. There were a thousand little choices that he made while the plane landed that allowed everyone to survive.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 PM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe I missed it, but I had to dig up the actual auction page myself. Has pictures.
posted by floam at 5:33 PM on January 23, 2010


Here's an idea for what to do with the plane. Assuming it's too damaged to repair, that is. Imagine doing Manhattan sightseeing tours in something like that.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:38 PM on January 23, 2010


Eh, he get's my vote for hero.

In fact, if we can't apply this label to him I think our standards for hero is too high.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:16 PM on January 23, 2010


Hero definitions aside (Sweet Jeebus the man was an on-point total ice machine there! Get off yer horse with the anti-hero shit!), that was a neat video
posted by Burhanistan at 6:18 PM on January 23, 2010


From wikipedia ....

Two flight attendants were in the front, one in the rear. Each flight attendant in the front opened a door, which was also armed to activate a slide, although the port side slide did not immediately deploy. One rear door was opened by a panicked passenger, causing the aircraft to fill more quickly with water. The flight attendant in the rear who attempted to reseal the rear door was not successful in doing so, she told CBS News.[53] It was later revealed that the impact with the water had ripped open a hole in the underside of the airplane and twisted the fuselage, causing cargo doors to pop open and filling the plane with water from the rear.[54] The flight attendant urged passengers to move forward by climbing over seats to escape the rising water within the cabin. One passenger was in a wheelchair. Having twice walked the length of the cabin to confirm that no one remained inside after the plane had been evacuated, the captain was the last person to leave the aircraft.

Oh... he's a hero, alright. Courage and clear thinking in the face of imminent disaster is the very definition of heroic. But let's not forget the others, including the co-pilot and the rest of the flight crew. I said this in the original thread, but feel that it bears repeating. People have forgotten that flight attendants are on-board because they are trained safety professionals. They were also pretty heroic in this case.

That said, I think we should all chip in and get this used aircraft instead.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:34 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


New time lapse video …

I just watched this and it looks like the same one I saw back almost a month before Christmas.
posted by floam at 7:10 PM on January 23, 2010


Calm in the face of unfortunate options, or of any option at all, for the benefit of those who are absolutely dependent on a life or death outcome, is not insignificant. I'd gratefully welcome it in much less hazardous situations.
posted by Morrigan at 7:22 PM on January 23, 2010


...wings detached, water damage, and some staining on seats.
posted by digsrus at 7:54 PM on January 23, 2010


...wings detached, water damage, and some staining on seats.

Hmm ... sounds like Thanksgiving around here, actually.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:04 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, putting aside this particular famous plane, what the hell would someone do with a half-destroyed and waterlogged crashed airplane? Who bids on these things?
posted by Mid at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2010


At the very least, it's worth a little bit as scrap metal. It's not unheard of for undamaged parts from crashed planes to get put back in service, though I'd be surprised if much of that happened in this case. Maybe some of the big, solid parts like landing gear components could get cleaned up, inspected, and approved for re-use.
posted by FishBike at 8:52 PM on January 23, 2010


landing gear components

Hmmmm...I'm thinking....Truckasaurus!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:19 PM on January 23, 2010


Chester, since we're on a Cryptonomicon binge these days.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:19 PM on January 23, 2010


So, putting aside this particular famous plane, what the hell would someone do with a half-destroyed and waterlogged crashed airplane? Who bids on these things?

Chester, I meant to say.
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:20 PM on January 23, 2010


we're probably over-reacting a little bit to the 'miracle hero pilot' story

Probably in an oversaturated media age sense, yes. But Al Haynes has a lucrative speaking career [not to mention this], and he only reached the ground with 184 out of 297 alive.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 PM on January 23, 2010


Has anyone (such as the NTSB) ever definitively calculated that, mathematically, he could not have glided to Teterboro or somewhere else.

The problem is there's too many counterfactuals. If the pilot flying had decided to make for TEB at the time of the airstrike, it was possible. But the first thing they do -- by training -- is run the engine-out-at-climbout drill, which involves returning to the departure airport.

By the time they fully understood that they, in effect, had a two engine out, the energy they lost trying to turn back to LGA left them unable to reach TEB. If they'd been primed to divert to TEB, rather than return to LGA, they probably could have made it.

But hindsight makes it much easier to make that call. Theoretically, you could build a system that would track heading, AoA, airspeed, winds, etc., and have it display a heading that would lead to the nearest able airport, given the landing requirements and energy state of the plane. Such a system would have had that flight heading to TEB, and the instant the decision to not continue the flight is made, they'd turn to that mark, rather than doing the 180 for LGA.
posted by eriko at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another reconstruction of the events, in real time with ATC audio, plus the cockpit audio in text form.

This gives a much better sense of all the other stuff that has to go on during an emergency like this. Part of this issue is they can't just show up at Teterboro unannounced, and by the time they were able to initiate that option and get clearance to do it, it was way too late.

From a few seconds after the strike, they are busy running through the double engine failure checklist, to make sure they could still fly the plane as it lost power. Because it's not just a loss of thrust--as the engines stop turning, you start losing all kinds of electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic power. At the same time they're trying to sort that out, they're also getting set up to ditch it somewhere.

I still think landing at TEB was pretty iffy even if they'd decided to do that at the first possible moment. I don't think they could have made that decision and co-ordinated it with ATC soon enough, without taking too much attention away from flying the plane and ending up in even worse shape.
posted by FishBike at 12:27 PM on January 24, 2010


Aircraft ran off runway during landing.

Classy, classy business.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:31 PM on January 24, 2010


dhartung: that is an amazing story. The thing that struck me was the extent of the failure analysis:
During the engine's normal running cycle, one of these cracks grew slowly each time the engine was powered up and brought to operating temperature, until it grew large enough for the disk to fail structurally
When I read that the SR-71 blackbird first flew in 1964, then I look at where software "engineering" is compared with aeronautical, mechanical and materials engineering, I'm flabbergasted.
posted by morganw at 4:45 PM on January 24, 2010


If you want more inside information about the UAL 232 crash, the captain gave a talk about it at NASA, and a transcript of his talk has been floating around the Internet for ages. I saw it years ago, but now it's actually referenced by the Wikipedia article about the crash. It's a pretty good read.
posted by FishBike at 5:25 PM on January 24, 2010


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