Famed Pilot Chesley Sullenberger Ridicules Boeing's Design and Safety Features

Veteran pilot Sullenberger voices concern about the designs and safety features of the 737 aircraft.
Jessica Miley

Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot behind the "Miracle on the Hudson" landing in 2009, which saved the lives of the entire plane (155 people on board), told the House Committee that it’s essential for pilots to not have traps on their planes.

His comments were to help the investigation on the two crashed planes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. 

Famed Pilot Chesley Sullenberger Ridicules Boeing's Design and Safety Features
 Source: Air Force Medical Service

Continuing with this position, ‘Sully’ stated:

"We must make sure that everyone who occupies a pilot seat is fully armed with the information, knowledge, training, skill and judgment to be able to be the absolute master of the aircraft and all its component systems and of the situations simultaneously and continuously throughout the flight."

The design of the Boeing 737 Max was what caused the single device failures that had the "cascading effect" – confusing and disorienting the pilots.


Simply put by Sully: "We should design aircraft for them to fly that do not have inadvertent traps set for them."

Sully’s observations appeared after the pilot went through a simulated flight of the doomed trip.

Boeing takes responsibility

In April, Boeing acknowledged their role in the two recent plane crashes that cost the lives of 346 people. In a statement by the company's CEO, Dennis Muilenburg stresses their sorrow for the loss of lives, saying the accidents weigh heavily on the company.

Boeing, then, acknowledged the role the plane's software had in possibly causing the two crashes:

The full details of what happened in the two accidents will be issued by the government authorities in the final reports, but, with the release of the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident investigation, it’s apparent that in both flights the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, known as MCAS, activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.

Meanwhile, Boeing revealed it has devoted a large number of resources towards working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement a new software update that will ensure similar accidents do not occur again. 

The Ethiopian Air plane crashed just six minutes after takeoff in similar circumstances to a Lion Air flight that crashed in Indonesia in October. In both cases, all crew and passengers on board were killed.

Will Boeing get its planes off the ground soon?

Although some have questioned the qualifications of the foreign pilots in the crashes (and in doing so, pointed a finger at the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations' aviation agency), Sullenberger and Daniel Carey, the president of the Allied Pilots Association, insist that not only software must be updated, but also pilot training courses.

One of the major steps Boeing can now take is in reorganizing its market to cover safety features as mandatory costs in plane sales.

In the past, Boeing has charged extra for disagree lights and angle of attack sensors.

An angle of attack sensor is what reads the aircraft’s angle relative to the oncoming air. When that sensor detects a dangerously high angle, it can send signals to the computer to push the nose down to avoid stalling.

Another safety feature is called the disagree light, which turns on when the aforementioned sensors detect discrepancies. Neither of those safety types of equipment is included in the basic retail price of the MAX 8 and 9. Boeing charges extra for them.

With these improvements in the horizon, Boeing is hoping to have its planes off the ground, by this year's fall. 

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