‘Hudson Miracle’ and the Ingenuity Gap

 The ‘Hudson Miracle’ provides another graphic illustration, similar to the one detailed by Thomas Homer-Dixon in his book the ‘The Ingenuity Gap’, from which a clip is included below.

As commented before in this Blog, we have for the last two hundred years removed ingenuity in processes by replacing people with energy and technology. If we did with aircraft, as some propose, the ability to generate ‘ingenious ‘ responses in emergency would be eliminated.

We face this now, with the reality of the ‘One Planet Equation’; we are dependent on rapidly diminishing reserves of useful net energy and we have removed the ingenuity from the processes using it.

Criminally, we are squandering the precious resource of ingenuity we have, as it can only be liberated and enabled to useful effect if people have a ‘systems view’ together with the knowledge and skills, and are in the right place at the right time to enable them to do the right thing, as Captain Sullenberger and his crew did.

Ofsted in the UK recognised in a 2005 report that the education system was failing in this.

Will a future BBC reporter be able to report “One person suffered two broken legs and paramedics treated 78 patients, most for minor injuries but, through a combination of the ingenuity and skills of the  human species, 9billion people have had a very narrow escape and the transition to a low carbon future accomplished on a habitable planet?



Pilot hailed for ‘Hudson miracle’


Captain Chesley Sullenberger was praised by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his “masterful” landing.

The state governor spoke of a “miracle on the Hudson”.

US Airways pilot Chelsey B Sullenberger III (image from Safety Reliability Methods website)

The BBC’s Greg Wood reports from New York that it was a true delivery from disaster, a commercial airliner forced to ditch in the river just next to the skyscrapers of mid-town Manhattan but with no fatalities.

One person suffered two broken legs and paramedics treated 78 patients, most for minor injuries but, through a combination of luck, the skill of the pilot and a rapid emergency response, 155 people have had a very narrow escape, our correspondent says.

Air accident investigators are in New York to probe the cause of the incident.

‘Everyone counted out’

Flight 1549 departed LaGuardia en route to Charlotte, North Carolina, at 1503 local time (2003 GMT), after a delay of 18 minutes, US Airlines said.

The pilot reported a “double bird strike” less than a minute after take-off and asked to return to the ground, before ditching in the Hudson, an air controllers union spokesman said.

Careening Into the Future


At 3:16 p.m. on 19 July, 1989, the jet’s tail engine blew apart. Twelve thousand meters above the US midwest, shards of the engine’s fan rotor cut through the rear of the aircraft, shredding its hydraulic systems. As fluid bled from hydraulic tubing, the pilots in the front of the plane lost command of the rudder, elevators, and ailerons essential to stabilizing and guiding the craft. Immediately the plane twisted into a downward right turn. United Airlines Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago – with 296 people aboard – was out of control………………………

………………………..Of course, our daily lives don’t have nearly the same drama or urgency. But most of us feel, at least on occasion, that we are losing control; that issues and emergencies, problems and nuisances, and information – endless bits of information – are converging on us from every direction; and that increasingly our lives have become so insanely hectic that we seem always behind, never ahead of events. Connections among places and peoples, among macro and micro events, connections that are often unexpected and invariably barely understood in their dimensions, weave themselves around us. Most of us also sense that immense, uncomprehended, and unpredictable forces are operating just beyond our view, such as economic globalization, mass migrations, and changes in Earth’s climate. Sometimes these forces are visible; more often they flit like shadows through our consciousness, disappearing in a haze of uncertainty and contradictions as we struggle with our day-to-day concerns…………………………

……………………………..But in this regard, United 232 also offers some reassuring lessons. Faced with sudden calamity, the crew members used their wits and their courage to save almost two thirds of the lives aboard. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declared that “under the circumstances, the UAL flight crew performance was highly commendable and greatly exceeded reasonable expectations.” The situation they faced was unprecedented: they hadnÕt trained for it; no airline crew had ever trained for it. Such a disaster was thought too unlikely or too catastrophic to justify specific training. The pilot and his officers therefore had to invent, on the spot, a method for controlling the plane. They also had to assess the plane’s damage, choose a place to land, and prepare their passengers for a crash landing.

Put differently, the moment the engine exploded, crew members had to meet a sharply higher requirement for ingenuity – that is, for practical solutions to the problem of flying the aircraft.



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