In his new book Fly By Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson, Vanity Fair scribe William Langewiesche writes that part of the reason Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was able to heroically land a plane on the Hudson is because the model plane he was flying has an automated cockpit. Bullshit, says Sully. Except he said it like a hero would say it:
'Fly By Wire' "greatly overstates how much it mattered," Sully told the Times. “Others in the industry knowledgeable about these technical issues know there are misstatements of fact in ‘Fly by Wire'. There are some situations where the automation will protect a pilot, but at the same time a highly automated airplane makes possible other types of errors so it’s a mixed blessing.”
Langewiesche said it was important to examine the role automation played in landing flight 1549 on the river. “I don’t think its role is critical, but it was functioning, but its part of the story, ” he said. The he went on about vectors and clearance and seat backs and tray tables and it all stopped making sense.
Sullenberger Takes Issue With New Book [City Room/NYT]