Landing a plane in water might be unusual, but that doesn’t mean it’s improvised. As a commercial pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger III was in fact trained in the manoeuvre. The procedure is relatively simple, though few can be expected to handle it as smoothly as Sullenberger did. After alerting the cabin crew and issuing a Mayday call, the pilot needs to disable the landing gear to allow for a smoother landing and turn off the air conditioning to let the cabin pressure match that of outside. The plane must then be slowed down as much as possible by being flown into the wind and extending its wing flaps. Just as the plane is about to hit the water, the pilot must ensure that wings are level to prevent either one from clipping the water, which would cause the plane to cartwheel. Once the wings are both at about the same height from the water, the pilot can lower the tail end and allow the plane to skim the surface of the water “like a pebble,” in the words of a former British Airways pilot.
A guide to landing a plane in water
Allow the plane to skim the surface “like a pebble”
FILED UNDER: Hudson River crash