Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flight 1549: Skill and Drill, Skill and Drill

Rachel Maddow, on her nightly news and opinion program on MSNBC, adroitly picked up the right theme about the US Airways crash in the Hudson River. She stressed that a skilled, drilled and ready force of civilian and governmental first-responders was the heart of that amazing rescue -- and that this is the essence of that aspect of "homeland" security.

The rescue did not happen by accident or through a feat of deering-do, but rather as a result of investment, quality training and steady maintenance in systems, equipment and people, whether they worked on civilian ferry boats or for the various local and state agencies that maintain the New York harbor maritime infrastructure.

Meanwhile, US Airways yesterday released the names and some background on each of the crew members on the flight, starting with the famous Captain Sullenberger. I'm glad to see the co-pilot and the flight attendants get some of the credit:

--Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, age 58, joined US Airways (PSA Airlines) in 1980. He has a total of 19,663 flight hours.

--First officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, age 49, joined US Airways (USAir) in 1986. He has a total of 15,643 flight hours.

--Flight Attendant Sheila Dail, age 57, joined US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in 1980 and has more than 28 years experience with the airline.

--Flight Attendant Doreen Welsh, age 58, joined US Airways (Allegheny Airlines) in 1970 and has more than 38 years experience with the airline.

--Flight Attendant Donna Dent, age 51, was hired by US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) in 1982 and has more than 26 years with the airline.

(You might note the various iterations of US Airways in those resumes).

And there are two letters to the editor in the Times this morning that make excellent points.

One, from Kathryn Keene, a former flight attendant, of North Conway, N.H., says that "it is time for the flying public to inspect the way flight crews, pilots and flight attendants are treated by their respective airlines. For many years, retirements have been stolen, salaries have been pillaged and airlines have merged mercilessly, belittling the highly skilled and impassioned professionals to whom so many millions of us entrust our lives."

And another, from Ellen Steinbaum, of Cambridge, Mass., makes this salient point after noting the great performance by crew, passengers and rescuers:

"But what does it say that the feel-good story of the week is about a plane crash?"



psa188 said...

There's no such thing as "PSA Airlines." PSA stood for "Pacific Southwest Airlines" thus "PSA Airlines" would actually be "Pacific Southwest Airlines Airlines." A bit redundant, don't you think?

See also said...

"PSA188" is simply incorrect. PSA Airlines, like US Air and US Airways (it had both names) went through multiple corporate iterations.