Today’s catastrophic US Airways flight 1549 plane crash, an airbus A-320, is the perfect example of what can go RIGHT if you prepare. Certainly the passengers are horrified having had to experience an emergency landing in the freezing Hudson River waters. But their exit time from the plane happened exactly according to the rehearsed plan. Airplanes of this nature are inspected and certified based on it’s ability to exit all passengers within 90 seconds. Even with the real exits obstructed by the river, passengers were able to exit the plane and stand on the wings, in accordance to standard operating procedures.
In order for this ideal outcome in the midst of the disastrous circumstances to happen so expeditiously, the flight attendants had to be very well practiced in getting the passengers prepared with the life vests, bracing themselves for the landing, and quickly exiting the plane prior to it’s immersion in the below freezing waters. Likewise, the passengers had to listen and comply with the instructions delivered on behalf of their safety.
Just to recap, US Airways flight 1549 hit a large flock of geese. While the pilots are warned from traffic control about potential bird/flock problems, there’s not a lot you can do to eliminate them altogether. When you’re moving at 150 miles per hour, there’s not a lot of evasive action you can take to avoid a flock of birds such as this. So avoiding the crisis altogether is not likely. This holds true regarding your own emergency preparedness as well. Just like you won’t be able to avoid a lot of disasters that may come your way, the key is to be mentally prepared for such unpleasant occasions beforehand. Conduct rehearsals in your mind and to back up such rehearsals with the actions you have within your power to address the disaster in a prepared and competent manner when it does enter your life.
This plane went over very heavily populated areas. Based on the map view, the Hudson River was the best place for the pilot to land. Once he hit the large flock of geese, sufficient to disable both engines, he had less than 2 minutes to fully determine AND execute the landing of the plane. As such, the pilot is worthy of accolades for an “SOP picture perfect” emergency landing.
Pilots are continually trained to always be on the look out for a “what if” landing. In other words, “If something were to happen right now, where would you land?” The pilot handled this emergency perfectly landing in the river, and as such ALL of the passengers and staff members were rescued. Initial reports reveal that there were only minor injuries—to be expected in such a landing – another nod to the competence of the pilot under such stressful circumstances.
In such a horrible crisis, there will be unfathomable distress. There will be grief and emotional trauma. But the difference between whether or not you have a future, and sufficient time to recover from such an experience will be determined by your appropriate planning for such a crisis.
Let’s cheer for Something Done Right in a Crisis and use this example as a warning for our own lives and the challenges we may encounter.