Chapter 2

Lessons from the Hudson

Jean Pariès

Things that have never happened before happen all the time.

Scott D. Sagan (The Limits of Safety)

The successful ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River (15th January 2009) shows an implementation of the ‘strategic resilience’ engineered into the aviation system – in this case, the multiple layers of ‘defence in depth’ set up by to manage a total engine failure in the context of bird ingestion. Each move through one line of defence to the next is like a tactical retreat, in which sights are lowered and sacrificing decisions are made, in order to save what can be saved. At each stage, the situation gets more improbable, more variable and less controllable; the probability and potential ...

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