I was an advocate of the idea that a sea landing is beyond impossible for any pilot. Some years ago Terrorists hijack a plane in Africa and demand to be flown to Australia. The Pilot runs out of fuel at the Sychelles Islands and ditches in the sea with most passengers dead or drowned. On Youtube you can see the filmed crash landing. One wing touches down first and the engine acts like a scoop cup with the water causing the plane to flip over and be destroyed. Luckly many were on vacation at the time....including doctors so all manner of boat was used to save people. Until Hudson river I thought the problem with the engine scoop would cause the plane to summer-sault over itself, but I heard this Hudson plane lost it's engines, it proved me wrong.
Sychelles Island crash proved you can't land a plane on water!
Looks to me like the trick was to get it perfectly level at the point of impact. Perhaps it helped it was a river and not the sea.
Eyeslice is right. If BOTH engines come into contact with the water at the same time, a safe water landing is possible. At sea, I'm sure you would want to be perpendicular to the waves and not parallel to them, if you have a choice.
There was one other thing that the Seychelles crash taught people.
You know the part in the safety demonstration that flight attendents give when they say "In the event of a water landing..."? Most airlines tell you NOT to inflate your life vests until AFTER you leave the aircraft. There is a very good reason for this. In the 1996 crash, some passengers inflated their vests while still strapped in their seats, thinking this would save time and prepare them for the crash. But instantly water filled the cabin and those who had inflated their vests were trapped inside, as they had to swim through the water to reach the doors -- which were now underwater as the fuselage sank.
So it is an important thing to keep in mind, if ever that should happen.
I once flew on Delta and noticed that they did not mention the bit about not inflating life vests and suggested to the flight attendents that they mention it in the future. They told me that it wasn't on their script.
in the event of any aeroplane crash you should put your head between your knees.........it makes it easier to kiss your arse goodbye.......
Given favorable conditions, (relatively smooth water and no crosswind) ditchings are very possible. If you don't have control problems (unusual attitudes, extreme adverse yaw [engine out], bad rudder damage) and can make a normal approach, you have a very good chance.
The Navy has been known to sink floating planes that didn't have the decency to sink, something about a "menace to navigation".
There are likely hundreds of successful ditchings on record. While you don't practice them, they are usually mentioned in flight school. Navy pilots ARE given training on what to do AFTER the plane stops. For them, its "just another day at the office": i.e. a fact of life in their profession.
And most of the Operations Manuals that I have read have a "Preparation for Water Landing" section (one of the red edged pages).
I sat through a discussion on ditchings and have never done one; now, I wish they had covered blowing a tire...
All the above is true for a succesful ditching. Add to that nose up enough so that the engines don't dip down into the water until the plane has slowed sufficiently. Interestingly one engine remined attached to the wing in Flight 1549.
From what I have read a couple of things were different for this ditching on the Hudson
The pilot was a glider pilot. He knew exactly what to do with a disabled aircraft and how to glide and land a plane with no engine power
The plane itself had a button to close vents into the fuselage to stop water from rushing in. This helped keep the plane afloat long enough to get the people out.
Perhaps all pilots should learn to fly gliders
I mentioned to my wife that the way the pilot brought down the aircraft onto the Hudson - the angle - with the tail-section lower - was very reminiscent of how the space shuttle lands - tail-first. Basically, the shuttle is a glider when it re-enters the atmosphere.
I, too - think that the pilot - being a glider piot also - was very helpful and handy knowledge to have - for landing this aircraft.
Not too many pilots would have even considered a water-landing... and would have splattered across part of the city, trying to make to an airport or larger landing area on dry land. (well... that's my thought on it - I might be wrong)
I also think that everyone involved - even the passengers are heroes.
I think the passengers in that plane that landed in the Hudson River were blessed with an EXCELLENT pilot. Even when an incident is not the pilot's fault, a very good pilot will save lives both on the ground and in his aircraft.
I'm still surprised that a couple of big geese not worth $40 dollars in a supermarket would take down a 77 million dollar airplane. I thought jet engines were tougher than that. I guess I'm wrong.
It helped too that the Hudson hadn't frozen over yet. Just a couple of days later and that landing would have been almost impossible. That was part of the reason the plane wasn't lifted sooner. There are ice chunks all over that part of the river now.
Possible or not, the pilot was fortunate to have a choice between water or heavily populated city. On water there is a better chance of survivors.
Its scary to think that while this plane was going down the pilot said to himself, ""Someone is going to die", I have to do my best to save as many as possible."
The fact that the plane was a "fly by wire" Airbus A 320 may have aided his ability to keep the plane level.
I am not an expert in aviation but do not most aircraft prior to landing "flare " that is make the plane "nose up" ?
. In the UK recently we had a Boeing 777 lose power in both Engines on final approach to Heathrow, the pilot glided the Aircraft down and landed just after the threshold. This was also like the landing on the Hudson, an amazing piece of airmanship, as anyone who has been to Heathrow knows, the margin for error is very small, get it wrong and there would have been hundreds of casualties on the aircraft and on the ground.
The pilot of both these airplanes were a testament to their good training and great skill
Also US Airways 1549 never did to a very high altitude; its airspeed was low compared to what it could have been.