I'm always amazed by the "miracle of the Hudson River landing" and just now stumbled across this video by the NTSB.

At 3:52, Jeffrey Skiles appears to say "* * switch" shortly before they ditch in the Hudson. I am assuming it was unreadable on the recording what he said before "switch". Does anyone know? Any ideas what and why he said that?

Side question: On the video it is not identified who is speaking but rather what channel it was spoken on. HOT-1, I assume, is the captain, HOT-2 the first officer. PA and stuff is obvious, but what is CAM, why did it stop recording on impact and why does the first officer sometimes speak on CAM, sometimes on HOT-2?


1 Answer 1


It's explained in the final report. Most definitely they asked him what he meant, as the transcript itself is:

* * switch?

"*" denoting unintelligible words by the transcribers.

The first officer was referring to the cabin emergency notification switch, which provides a signal to the cabin crew members indicating that an emergency has occurred.

To which Sully replied "yes", then the GPWS announced 30 or 50 (transcribers not sure), then the RETARD callout (for the thrust levers) was announced (computers eh). The recording ended about 5 seconds after asking about the switch.

enter image description here

Putting the switch to ON does three things:

  1. lights the overhead emergency lights (more here on this cabin indicating system)
  2. lights the exit signs
  3. lights the exit markings on the cabin floor (proximity marking system).

Regarding the HOT and CAM, see: What is the meaning of HOT-1, HOT-2, CAM, etc., in cockpit voice recorder transcripts?

CAM Cockpit area microphone voice or sound source
HOT Hot microphone voice or sound source
-2 Voice identified as the First Officer

The audio source indicated is usually the clearest one.

  • $\begingroup$ Right switch name, wrong location. The one you circled controls the lighting you described.The Emergency notification switch is on the left side of the overhead, on the Calls panel. It provides the signal described in the report. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ One more thing to add - while the verbatim quote from the report mentions the notification switch, they / he may have actually been referring to the Evac Command switch, which is a little higher up on the left side of the overhead, on the Evac panel. It fits the situation more appropriately, as it is typically used as part of the evacuation process (as opposed to the other button, which is used earlier to call flight attendants to inform them of an emergency situation). The wording isn't entirely clear, but this context makes more sense. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 17:27

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