Even Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger, hero of “The Miracle on the Hudson,” has his second guessers. The Wall Street Journal reports that deep inside a federal report on Sullenberger’s emergency landing of a US Airways jet on the Hudson River last year are suggestions, based on tests with flight simulators, that Sullenberger could’ve made it back to La Guardia Airport safely. The Airbus A320 lost both engines after sucking in birds at 2,500 feet. Sullenberger was able land his 70-ton glider on the river, and no one was killed. For this he achieved instant fame, appearing on late-night shows, snagging a book deal and serving as grand marshal of this year’s Rose Parade.
But even the Hero of the Hudson has a Monday Morning Quarterback. Pilots on flight simulators were able to return to La Guardia in a number of tests — though those were based on an immediate decision to head for the airport. Even so, the National Transportation Safety Board and outside experts haven’t changed their conclusion that Sullenberger made the right call, The Journal reports. Like the rest of us, they know it’s a heck of a lot easier to clear the Manhattan skyline knowing that if you hit the Empire State Building you get a do-over.
On the gas, off the gas. Makes you crazy when you’re in the car with someone who drives like that, doesn’t it? Well, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had that effect on owners of recalled Toyota vehicles – telling a House committee Americans shouldn’t drive those cars, then throwing it into reverse a few hours later, saying people should take the cars to dealerships for repairs. “What I said in there, or what I thought I said was, ‘If you own one of these cars or if you’re in doubt, take it to the dealer,’” LaHood said, pedal firmly to the metal. LaHood’s no-go/go remarks certainly fit the situation with Toyota, which has recalled millions of vehicles because of a potentially deadly problem with sticking accelerators.
Ever been stuck aboard a delayed commercial flight? Cramped quarters, stale air and, of course, the inevitable screaming baby. The Obama administration has felt your pain and on Monday ordered airlines to let people get off planes delayed on the ground after three hours. Consumer advocates called it a Christmas miracle, although the new regulation won’t go into effect for 120 days. Airline officials said the regs would result in more canceled flights and inconvenience for travelers, but it’s a trade off most travelers would gladly accept.
High gasoline prices last year contributed to a 4 percent decline in vehicle miles traveled, but public transit didn’t capture all of the traffic that was lost to the roads. Sam Staley, Reason Foundation’s director of urban growth, testified before Congress recently and urged lawmakers “to prioritize transportation solutions that increase our mobility and decrease traffic congestion,” according to the libertarian foundation. Staley asked Congress to keep public transit in perspective when designing a stimulus package. Public transit is responsible for a tiny share of mobility in this country; increasing transit ridership significantly would require “a dramatic and largely involuntary relocation of people and families into housing they do not want,” Reason says. People still like to commute by car. One factor is time: On average, public transit riders spend about 36 minutes traveling to work while private automobile travelers commute about 21 minutes.”