Jeff Skiles, Flight 1549 First Officer, Visits Sun 'n Fun

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Jeff Skiles, best known as the guy in the right seat when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson last year, is spending a few days this week at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., to share his story with thousands of aviation enthusiasts. Skiles flew for 24 years with the airline, and that day last year was his first time in the front seat of an Airbus A320. "I had just finished school," he told a news conference on Wednesday, "and there was no training for a dual engine failure at low altitude." The only checklist available presumed that the crew had 20,000 feet or so to try restarts. That might change after the NTSB finishes its report and issues safety recommendations, Skiles said. That final report from the safety board should be released within a few weeks.

Skiles told the news conference that despite some speculation after the ditching, he doesn't think the Airbus's fly-by-wire system had any impact on the results one way or the other. "Some people thought if it had been a Boeing, the engines wouldn't have both stopped," he said. "But both engines have been torn down and there is no question, looking at the amount of damage. The outcome wouldn't have been different at all. It was not a factor." He added that the system was also not a factor in the handling of the aircraft during the glide. Skiles serves as vice president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots' Associations, and in that capacity acts as an advocate for safety and better training for pilots. He has been working in Washington to advocate for changes in FAA rules. "Both pilots, in any Part 121 operation, should be qualified as Airline Transport Pilots," he said. "It's not so much about training. You need experience."

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli recently caught up with Skiles for a video interview; click here to watch.