The skills and performance under pressure exhibited by Capt. Tammie Jo Shults when she brought the severely damaged Southwest Airlines 737 into Philadelphia for a safe landing has been a much-discussed topic among my friends and neighbors. Almost to a person, the consensus is, “I hope my pilot, if an emergency should ever happen, is as skilled as Capt. Shults.”
As a retired naval aviator with more than 22 years of experience — and also a retired civilian pilot with another 22 years of experience — I can guarantee everyone I talk to that they can be certain that every aircrew they fly with on a U.S. airline represent the absolute highest level of training available. The skill-level of an airline captain, combined with continuous on-going training and evaluation programs, is higher than in any other profession.
Every crew flying the skies over the United States (and there are probably more than 6,000 flights flying over the country as you read this) has trained for almost the exact scenario experienced by Capt. Shults’s crew. And they had to demonstrate, without any doubt, that they could bring the emergency to a safe conclusion … as did Capt. Shults.
The FAA, the airlines, the Airline Pilots Association, the National Transporatation Safety Board and numerous international training and certification groups accept only perfection from an aircrew. When you fly with a professional aircrew, you are in safe hands.