Jeff Skiles, first officer of US Airways Flight 1549, "The Miracle on the Hudson," is the guest speaker for the AEA Annual Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 9, during the Aircraft Electronics Association's 53rd annual International Convention & Trade Show, from April 7-10, in Orlando, Fla.
Rockwell Collins and the AEA are sponsoring Skiles who, with a great sense of humor and his natural storytelling ability, details the lessons, training and scenarios that led to the safe evacuation of 155 passengers and crew.
On a bright, 20-degree afternoon in January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 barreled down New York La Guardia Airport's main runway, loaded with 155 passengers and crew, headed skyward for Charlotte, N.C. Everything was normal until First Officer Jeff Skiles spotted a formation of Canada geese on the right side of the aircraft, seemingly headed directly toward them. Skiles, who was flying the plane manually, was relieved when the nose of the plane rose above the geese, but that relief was short-lived. A few seconds later, he heard four distinct thunks as the birds crashed into the engines of the Airbus A320. Both engines immediately failed. Skiles lost his instrument panel.
Captain Chesley Sullenberger took over flying the plane and tipped the nose down to retain airspeed. Within 60 seconds, the pilots made the decision that returning to LaGuardia or diverting to Teterboro or Newark Airports was just too risky - they'd have to fly over densely populated areas and there was no guarantee they'd make it. So, surrounded by nothing but skyscrapers and neighborhoods, they decided to head to the only open, flat space available: the Hudson River.
In his humble, Midwestern style, Skiles explains the key lessons of teamwork, adaptability, training and preparation, which he and his crewmates relied on that day, and relates these concepts to the daily lives of individuals and organizations.
From the mechanics and the maintenance workers to the people who write the emergency protocols and the flight attendants, Skiles believes every level of the US Airways organization is responsible for the outcome on Jan. 15, 2009.
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Founded in 1957, the Aircraft Electronics Association represents nearly 1,300 member companies in more than 40 countries, including government-certified international repair stations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of avionics and electronic systems in general aviation aircraft. The AEA membership also includes manufacturers of avionics equipment, instrument repair facilities, instrument manufacturers, airframe manufacturers, test equipment manufacturers, major distributors, engineers and educational institutions.