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Lessons In Driver Safety From The Hudson River Landing

Eleven years ago, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed an Airbus A320 safely on the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan after losing power in both engines after takeoff. There were no fatalities. Some called it a miracle, but the truth comes down to safety training and experience.

Today, that accident, and others since then, have put a spotlight on the importance of improving transportation safety. The airline industry for one is in the process of moving pilots from stationary to simulated training, which mimics flying challenges very realistically. Research shows that the trucking industry—which has many times more accidents than the airline industry—can benefit from simulated training as well.

“We should all want pilots to experience these challenging situations for the first time in a simulator,” Sullenberger told the House aviation subcommittee last year, “not with passengers and crew on board.”

Training Leads to Quick Thinking, Quick Decisions

His recommendation for increasing simulation training was echoed by major U.S. airlines, flight attendants and pilot labor unions. following two incidents in which two Boeing 737 Max planes lost control after takeoff and crashed, killing all 346 people.

Sullenberger’s U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lost power in both engines after hitting a flock of Canada geese, just minutes after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Over the course of just four minutes, he and his copilot Jeffrey Skiles considered landing the damaged airplane back to LaGuardia Airport or to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

But with engine power gone and the plane beginning a downward descent, the pilots opted to maneuver a controlled landing – known as a “ditching” – into the frigid Hudson River. All 155 people aboard were rescued by boat within hours.

Experience, Not Miracles

The incident has since become known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.” But many airline safety experts, including Sullenberger, say the plane’s safe landing can be attributed to “muscle memory,” or the kind of strong hand-eye coordination that comes with repetition and experience. The two pilots had several decades of experience between them.

The question of how to develop experience and safety skills is paramount to everyone in the transportation field, from the airline industry, to the aerospace industry, to the trucking industry.

Immersive Training Prepares Drivers With On-Road Skills

The trucking industry, in particular, is poised to benefit from impactful, immersive driver training. There were 4,761 people killed in large-truck crashes in 2017. In comparison, there were 79 people killed in fatal airliner accidents that year, including cargo planes and commercial passenger turboprop aircraft.

So, how can we build more muscle memory and real-time skills in truck drivers, as well as pilots? Traditional computer-based training is stationary, without a great deal of sensory experience or personal interaction.

But simulation training is different: it can realistically mimic feelings associated with actual on-the-road skills and events, such as acceleration, deceleration, and merging, for example. Even better, it can require truckers to use both hands and respond actively to emergency scenarios.

NextGen Driver Training is proud to offer simulation training that teaches truck drivers the skills and muscle memory they need to respond to hazards on the road. More than that, NextGen trains drivers to anticipate potential dangers in advance, so that they can avoid hazards in the first place, which leads to safer outcomes.

Leading transportation companies with extensive and in-depth training requirements turn to NextGen Driver Training because it is more flexible, more powerful and ultimately less expensive than stationary training. That means less risk to companies, equipment, workers and communities.

Contact NextGen Driver Training

NextGen Driver Training has the flexible, comprehensive training solutions you need to ensure your drivers stay sharp on the road, to help you ascertain the skills of potential new hires, and to keep your insurance costs down. Contact us online or call us at (866) 837-9510 to find out how you can use NextGen simulation to meet your driver training needs.

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