Hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made the right decision in landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after a midair goose collision, a federal safety panel has reported.

Documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that Sullenberger would have had just enough time to turn the plane immediately around and head back toward LaGuardia — but that such a maneuver would have put many more people in harm’s way, risking a more catastrophic crash in a high-density area.

In a statement submitted to NTSB, plane maker Airbus agreed with Sullenberger’s decision.


“Although an emergency return to La Guardia Runway 13 was technically feasible from an aircraft flight performance point of view, the emergency landing on the Hudson seems the most appropriate decision,” Airbus said.

The NTSB will also likely be looking into training pilots for water landings. Despite Sullenberger’s success, a slight deviation from his course could have yielded serious problems, officials say.

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