I have read a number of times the CVR transcript of US Airways 1549. Just before impact, they say:

we're gonna brace

I know what is the brace position for passengers, but I'm not sure about how cockpit crews would adopt it. For Airbus aircraft (as this flight was) I think it could be done more or less the same way as passengers, but what about in Boeing or other yoke-equipped cockpits? Wouldn't the brace position interfere with critical flight controls?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In the film Sully (2009) the brace position of the pilots was depicted as placing the palm of the free hand on the rim of the instrument panel, keeping the arm straight. During this time the captain was depicted as still operating the side stick with his left hand. I cannot confirm if this procedure was accurately depicted or not $\endgroup$
    – binaryfunt
    Sep 8, 2018 at 23:41
  • $\begingroup$ (I meant 2016, not that it matters significantly) $\endgroup$
    – binaryfunt
    Sep 4, 2020 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


You don't brace -- you're still operating the aircraft! The pilot seats have shoulder harnesses; in many cases you can lock them, plus they also have inertial reels that keep you from slamming forward at an impact. Additionally, the pilots can presumably see the moment of impact coming, and tense for exactly that moment in a way that passengers cannot.

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    $\begingroup$ Bob Hoovers alleged quote comes to mind: "If you’re faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible". $\endgroup$
    – Waked
    Jul 1, 2017 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yep -- I was thinking about the very last second before impact. Maybe the harness is not enough to restrain your head, and they mentioned bracing. That caught my eye. $\endgroup$
    – orique
    Jul 1, 2017 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ @orique I'm not sure how precise it is as it's "just TV", but in many Mayday series you see pilots getting head injuries after impact, presumably from hitting some of the instruments on impact. $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Jul 1, 2017 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ Tensing the body's muscular system is generally counter productive in a crash. Bracing is helpful and a different concept. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Jul 2, 2017 at 20:11

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