A January 12th news release announced that the US airline carriers have gone 2 years without a single passenger fatality. Although this is a remarkable achievement, some things are better left unspoken. The first thought that crossed my mind is that we’re going to see a plane crash in the near future.
It was only 3 days until pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger earned instant fame when he remarkably landed his Airbus A320 on the Hudson river after the engines on US Airways Flight 1549 were blown out by a flock of Canada Geese. I didn’t even think a plane could successfully land on water and still float. The pilots of Flight 1549 deserve all the gratitude they have received, and more.
Although “Sully” saved the lives of all 155 people on board, thus preserving the “no aviation deaths” streak, it was only 28 days later that the streak ended, when a Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 crashed into a residential neighbourhood near Buffalo. All 49 passengers on Continental Connection Flight 3407 perished, as did a 61-year-old man on the ground.
While working in Halifax in 2007, I met a gentleman from Ottawa who had flown from Victoria, BC to Halifax the day prior to my meeting him. Shortly after taking off, his airplane hit a flock of geese and one of the two engines blew. He described the experience as briefly frightening because the plane was falling sideways and rapidly losing altitude. The pilot managed to regain control of the plane and made an emergency landing at the airport. Apparently this happens fairly frequently, so the pilots are trained to handle this situation.
You may have noticed my subtle message about Canada being responsible for the 2 recent plane crashes. It has been 10 years since South Park first introduced the song “Blame Canada”, so I was somewhat amused by the media coverage associating Canada with these crashes.