Safely landing a commercial airliner with two disabled jet engines on a frigid river is an amazing feat. It also has been the launchpad for its pilot to champion confidence-building pilot safety.
Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger became an instant hero January 15, 2009 when he set down his gasping Airbus A320-214 on the Hudson River minutes after taking off from LaGuardia Airport. The emergency ditch resulted in no loss or life and only one injury among its 150 passengers and five crew members.
Appearing Sunday on Face the Nation, Sullenberger credited the successful emergency landing to discipline that allowed "doing our jobs under stressful conditions."
Sullenberger has leveraged his act of heroism to push for stricter rules on how long pilots can fly without rest and more strenuous requirements for flight training. He said pilots must understand the basic operation of the planes they fly even as aircraft becomes more technologically advanced. That's what makes them pilots.
The Miracle on the Hudson River was less a miracle, Sullenberger said, than an example of pilots improvising in an unanticipated situation while relying on their basic training.
Sullenberger's experience is instructive to anyone who must manage a crisis — whether it's an environmental spill or corporate misbehavior. Preparation and training are the foundations of the discipline required to respond effectively to crisis.
When crisis hits, many businesses are caught off guard. Often the crisis involves a situation that could have been anticipated.
Time is well spent to identify potential sources of crisis and prepare to address them. You never know when a flock of birds will clog your jet engines and you need to pull a miracle out of your hat.