I often hear that Human pilots are superior to machines. Apparently there are thousands of Engine failures caused by ingesting birds; since I know birds can be detected by radar hundreds of feet away, it would be possible for an autopilot to avoid birds - while it is hugely difficult for pilots to "see and avoid" birds.

This is to say nothing about bringing disabled airplanes back to their airport safely rather than resorting to a statistically fatal water landing.

One of the features of a peer to peer autopilot/autoATC is the ability to 1. reroute multiple planes to avoid enemy aircraft (ie birds) in real time, and 2. reroute multiple planes to prioritize the landing of distressed planes.

It is my opinion that on second analysis, this lucky landing will be criticised as a series of poor choices, and point to 1. the inability of the tower to route traffic around a flock it should have seen, and 2. the inability to react within the time demands of a predictable event. (Since the climbout for this plane is higher than the glideslope, the pilots best choice was return to origin; he appears to have had about twice as much speed and altitude as he needed to land at la Guardia.)


Are avoiding birds, and prioritizing dead stick landings strong arguments for increasing the role of machines in the ATC?

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It's hard to believe a flock of birds could bring down a passenger jet. Everyone's seen the videos of Pratt & Whitney turbofans sucking turkeys without issue. Then again, this is Air Bus. Air busses are extremely fragile. They crash if you apply too much rudder. 3 months ago, an A330 dropped 650 ft because of an IMU malfunction. They're like flying french crepes.
Jack, based on the plan provided by MSNBC - and assuming the engines quit at the highpoint (and sharp left turn), would you concur that the pilot had about twice the altitude he needed to make it back to la Guardia?
I'm sorry but you speak as though this Aircraft were a toy, with plastic people on board and that ATC can redirect airliners (some of which were sure to be on finals and in climb-out situations themselves) like they could a pitts special. La Guardia is one of the bussiest airports in the World and what we have here is pure textbook flying, not one word spoken for this brave pilot who's training obviously took over and averted any loss of life, he obviously landed a 100+ ton airoplane on water with no or very little damage, otherwise this flying pancake would have sunk in minutes with a completely different outcome! It is too easy to speculate after any event, but when your in a situation and your sphincter muscle is winking like a cheerleader and you have a hundred and fourty odd souls in your charge there is not much time to think, Shakespere called it " Tragic awareness " . The person in charge of that plane is not only a hero, he's a bloody good pilot to boot.
1. Airliners are equipped with weather radar only, which is not capable of picking up flocks of birds in any usable fashion.
2. ATC primary surveillance radar is only capable of determining the azimuth and range to a target, it can not determine altitude. Any birds detected could be at 500 or 10000 feet, there is no way to know with existing equipment whether there is a real collision hazard with any aircraft. Most aircraft are equipped with altitude reporting transponders, which is the only way ATC knows their altitude (aside from the pilot telling them).
3. ATC radar displays are often set to ignore primary returns (from objects without transponders) moving at low speeds (usually 60 MPH or less), as the radar will also pick up trucks, cars, boats, buildings, etc. Most of the time, flocks of birds will only be seen sporadically.
4. There are lots of factors that likely played a role in determining whether to turn back or head for an alternate, none of us are in a position to know right now, that is something for the NTSB to examine.
Elevators are not toys, they carry thousands of people safely to their destinations every day under full autonomous control. They predict traffic and respond in milliseconds to changes in traffic.

My opinion of this flight - is not bravery but cowardice. I think the pilot choose to ditch a perfectly good glider in the Hudson because he was afraid of his dead-stick abilities. You tell me. should a pilot be capable of landing his plane without power? Yes or No? Is a runway preferable to water? Was he cleared to return to LG? Did he have the altitude to do so? His actions made flying less safe and more expensive. Woot. I'll withhold judgment until the investigation of course - if it isn't politicized, but at first blush, this is a suicide/murder attempt on the part of the pilot. Water landings are fatal in most cases.

I do think you can write routing software to handle more complicated routing problems faster and more accurately than people; moreover, computers don't fail under stress in the way that humans do.
I think this was a minor problem (lets face it the engines are the most optional flying control) and the best the tower can say is "I told him to land there, then I heard nothing..." It really wasn't a managed event at all. The pilot rerouted by himself, with no real knowledge of other planes or anything similar. It was a lucky break on the landing, but otherwise a poorly managed incident. An incident I suggest could have been netter handled by a peer-to-peer ATC.
Aah, I see, Dumb ass pilot. Perhaps you, with your vast knowledge could design a new system for us, maybe even an Airline version of " Jonny cab " . That would be much safer and erm..........netter.
Johnny,
I don't want to disrespect the pilot - I'm just exploring how a machine might have done the job, specifically how humans are limited in their reaction time, and how computers could respond to an event like this.

I believe the early evidence suggests a return to La Guardia was well within the glide slope of the aircraft - but that the pilot did not have the means to determine this fact. I believe avoiding birds is within the reach of an electronic system, but the pilots could not see them within their own reaction timeframe (they were spotted, but there was no reaction). These are two ways an autonomous flight system might be an improvement. If we add 911 to the list, it begins to be arguable that autonomous flight may be superior to human pilots.

A water detector (or gps with knowledge of water systems) might have sealed the cabin in spite of a defunct crew - which failed to throw the ditch switch.

Keeping the passengers from flooding the plane by opening exits underwater would be a tough one.
Looks like this french crepe saved all people life with this great pilot included not going down to the rivers mud,.....i would say,....great pilot for a great plane,.....by the way...the engines are made in England by Rolls !

cheers
Without even going into all the possible things that could have prevented them from choosing to RTB, alls that it takes is one reason for them not to choose not to return to the AP. Given the area there are not alot of options available that are not populated or without trees or suitable landing options. Given what they had to work with the water landing seems to have been the best choice. Landing where they did gave them the best chances for survival. If they'd have landed offshore weather conditions certainly could have an impact on the situation as seas would have produced more chop and made for a possible hard landing (as compared to the smoother landing available on the river) even where they ended up was better than landing up the river as rescue units were right there...

As far as "this is a suicide/murder attempt on the part of the pilot. Water landings are fatal in most cases." goes... Landing on buildings is ALWAYS FATAL... Suicide/murder attempt! Please save the Drama acting class..
any landing you can walk away from is a good landing .
Is calling the pilot a coward not disrespect, you also said that he was afraid of his dead stick landings and accused him of attempted murder.

This pilot is an ex fighterpilot, A world class GLIDER pilot, a flight instructor and has countless hours on passenger airlines

Ben, I can not understand your obvious contempt for this man and I am deeply shocked by your outrageous comments.
My flab is aghast

The blokes did a fantastic job of sorting out an approach and plainly suitable landing.

If they had cocked it up, ho hum a few salmon out the way and a sad loss of life.

If they had turned back across a congested area and cocked it up........

Should people flying UAV's firmly believe that they will always behave perfectly, nothing can go wrong then god help us.

Right wheres an Airbus driver when you need one to tell us the numbers.

Hands up all those wanting to get airborne at Durbans new 2010 La Mercy airfield when the swallows come in to roost at night, about 6 tonnes of them I believe.

Yep we are building an airfield on an environmentally sensitive site.

If very few swallows turn up in Europe in 2011 you can blame Fifa! (Well not strictly)

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