1549 Emergency Checklists Aid Experiential Operations

1549 Emergency Checklists Aid Experiential Operations

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‘What can “Sully” teach us about mission critical operations?’

1549 Emergency Checklists Aid Experiential Operations

Interview with US Navy and Commercial Pilot, Joe ‘Jonesy’ Jones, Key Largo October 1, 2016

‘Was it simply because 1549 was a lucky number? Well, no. Dual engine failures are not supposed to happen. Yet airlines have learned over the years the best way to handle emergencies is to plan for them before they occur,” says Joe ‘Jonesy’ Jones. Jones is President of ICΛRUS Ops whose checklist systems are based on decades of military and commercial flight experience.

Emergecny Checklists Vital for 1549

Jones says emergency checklist procedures proved vital for the crew of 1549, it helped the outcome be better. In a less severe situation emergency procedures came to the aid of his flight crew. When a flock of birds collided with a commercial airliner he was piloting, full of passengers,Jonesy’s crew used emergency procedures towards a successful outcome. 

1549 Emergency Checklists Aid Experiential Operations

Bird Strike on a Boeing 737 Commercial Airplane Engine

The most critical moments are during landing and take off.

“Immediately after take off at about 20 feet a flock of birds moved in from right to left, and with no maneuverability in the jet due to low speed. We had multiple bird strikes, the bloody mess covered the entire windscreen at the same time we heard thumps and the smell. We knew we had problems immediately, we felt the plane vibrate abnormally, the engine displays showed abnormal vibration,” says Jones.

Jonesy’s crew performed an emergency landing checklist, both engines were still producing thrust. Unlike the 1549 incident, Jonesy and his crew were able to quickly return to land at the departing airport. As the First Officer on a Boeing 737 flight he sees many potential bird strikes, which is what happens when birds hit airplanes in flight. Jones has always successfully landed every flight he has flown. Something he attributes to well designed, consistently followed aviation checklists.

1549 Emergency Checklists Aid Experiential Operations

Bird Strike On The Leading Edge Of The Boeing 737 Wing


Thankfully for the passengers and crew of Flight 1549 the airlines have always made the professional effort required to write emergency procedures for all foreseeable emergencies including “Loss of Thrust, Both Engines.”

35 Second Period Made All The Difference

The fact that Sully was able to call for and execute that checklist, despite the fact that it did not restart the engines, allowed him to fly the jet instead of trying to formulate and then execute the best way to attempt to get an engine back on line. Clint Eastwood produced and directed the movie “Sully” which was recently released. As a result it was revealed that a mere 35 second period of time made all the difference in the final outcome.

“On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero…” from Google ‘Sully The Movie.’

Not a lot of people are aware that was the first flight on an Airbus 319 for First Officer Jeff Skiles after his Initial Operating Experience.

“Loss Of Thrust Both Engines Checklist”

Had the “Loss of Thrust Both Engines” checklist not existed, far more than 35 seconds could have elapsed while the crew focused on a myriad of potential ways to attempt to restart the engines. In my opinion the existence of the preparatory work to aid crews to expertly handle foreseeable emergencies is the great hidden take away,” says Jonesy.

“Has your organization prepared itself to allow your employees to be heros? They still need to be experts in their field and have deep understanding of their systems just like Sully and Skiles. But having a solid plan for foreseeable abnormal situations and emergencies can make the difference between a save and failure,” he says.

ICΛRUS Ops developed a complete checklist system to reduce errors in both normal situations and foreseeable abnormal situations and emergencies.

“Don’t forget cognitive ability can be greatly reduced by sudden stress. In the airline world we like to say “standardize where possible and improvise only when required, how much improvisation is required by your team? How prepared are they for those events that are not supposed to happen?” he says.

 Joe ‘Jonesy’ Jones is President and Co-founder of ICARUS Ops LLC, a retired military pilot, commercial airline pilot and mission critical consultant.

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