Why NTSB Investigators Aren't Happy With Sully

They say movie paints them as the bad guys, but they weren't
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2016 2:03 PM CDT
Why Crash Investigators Aren't Happy With Sully
Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, left, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks attend the premiere of "Sully" at Alice Tully Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, in New York.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Sully, the Capt. Chesley Sullenberger biopic currently getting rave reviews, needed some villains other than the geese that flew into the engines of the plane the pilot was flying during the "Miracle on the Hudson." Those villains: the accident investigators, who can be seen in the film's trailer harshly interrogating Sully about the crash. And the National Transportation Safety Board isn't particularly happy with how it's being portrayed. The board put out a statement clarifying that it was not asked to participate in the production of the movie and thus could not ensure it was portrayed accurately, and people involved with the investigation say that in real life, if anything, investigators were easy on Sully. "I think we’re getting the dirty end of the stick here," the NTSB veteran who oversaw the investigation tells Bloomberg. He adds, to the New York Times, "We weren't out to hose the crew."

He says the NTSB investigators treated Sully fairly and, far from criticizing him in their final report, credited him with saving lives with his quick decision to land on the Hudson River. The movie, though, makes the case that the investigation "threatened to destroy [Sully's] reputation and his career." In speaking about the film, director Clint Eastwood said investigators were trying to make it seem as if the accident was Sully's fault. In reality, says another retired member of the NTSB team that interviewed Sully, "There was no effort to crucify him or embarrass him." In fact, he adds, "I personally was very impressed" with the flight crew's actions. "The basic premise of the film is simply inaccurate," another source connected to the NTSB tells Conde Nast Traveler. Sullenberger was involved with the movie's development, and says in a statement that it "reflects the many challenges that I faced and successfully overcame both during and after the flight." As the NYT points out, the movie does not use investigators' real names. (Read more Chesley Sullenberger stories.)

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