I was disappointed that Ann Hornaday, in her Sept. 9 Weekend review of the movie “Sully,” “Soaring into fall awards season,” was “infuriat[ed]” that “anyone could second-guess” pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s performance.
As National Transportation Safety Board director of public affairs during that investigation, I can assure you that no one at the board was second-guessing him. It is routine for the NTSB to pursue many avenues of inquiry — from manufacturing standards to government regulation to training for pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers — in every investigation.
When Mr. Sullenberger finished his testimony at the NTSB’s public hearing, one NTSB board member, a former airline pilot, thanked Mr. Sullenberger for his professionalism and for his performance that eventful day.
While simulations were successfully conducted by pilots prepared for the circumstances of that flight, the NTSB concluded that it was unrealistic for any pilot to have successfully reached an airport, and its final report was laudatory of Mr. Sullenberger’s performance.
It is precisely this wide-ranging nature of NTSB investigations, assisted by the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry, that produces best practices incorporated in manufacturing and training in aviation. Although no industry can be made crash-proof, it is no accident that for the past 15 years we have been enjoying the safest period of airline travel in our nation’s history, and no fanciful Hollywood scriptwriting should obscure how we got there.
Ted Lopatkiewicz, McLean