The airline pilot who successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River 10 years ago is speaking out regarding what he sees was a dangerous lack of training for one of the pilots on the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed last weekend.
Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, who retired in 2010 after a 30-year career, noted in a Facebook post that the first officer on the doomed flight of the now-grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 had just 200 hours of flight experience.
"I feel sure that the Ethiopian crew would have tried to do everything they were able to do to avoid the accident. It has been reported that the first officer on that flight had only 200 hours of flight experience, a small fraction of the minimum in the U.S., and an absurdly low amount for someone in the cockpit of a jet airliner," Sullenberger wrote.
"A cockpit crew must be a team of experts, not a captain and an apprentice. In extreme emergencies, when there is not time for discussion or for the captain to direct every action of the first officer, pilots must be able to intuitively know what to do to work together. They must be able to collaborate wordlessly. Someone with only 200 hours would not know how to do that or even to do that."
Sullenberger went on to say that pilots with a limited amount of flight experience might not even have any time flying in bad weather, let alone dealing with an in-flight emergency.
"Airlines have a corporate obligation not to put pilots in that position of great responsibility before they are able to be fully ready," he wrote. "While we don't know what role, if any, pilot experience played in this most recent tragedy, it should always remain a top priority at every airline. Everyone who flies depends upon it."
The Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second deadly incident of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 since October. The plane has since been grounded worldwide as investigators work to figure out what happened so engineers can design a potential fix.
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