QF72 | Hero pilot Kevin Sullivan’s quick thinking saves 315 people | Sunday Night

(plane engines roaring) (slow music) – [Reporter] It’s just after lunch onboard Qantas Flight 72 from Singapore to Perth. – Sir, would you like a drink? – [Reporter] Qantas flight
attendant Fuzzy Maiava is busy attending to
passengers in the cabin. – [Fuzzy] Orange juice for you, madam. – If I can make your flight
a lot easier, I’m your man. And I thought it was going to
be another great day, yeah. – [Reporter] Up in the cockpit. – How’s everything going? – [Pilot] Very good. – [Reporter] Captain Kevin
Sullivan has just climbed back into his seat after a
rest break, when suddenly. (instruments beeping) The plane’s autopilot disconnects. – Autopilot one appears
to have disconnected. – And then we started
getting stall warnings. (alarm ringing) – [Man] Stall, stall. – And then we started
getting overspeed warnings. – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] And then it happens. (dramatic music) – [Man] Stall, stall. (alarm ringing) Stall, stall. – The plane, it started going down, pitching down violently down. – [Reporter] Tonight for the first time the previously untold story of
Qantas’ worst ever accident. – Bang, my head went
through the cabin ceiling. – [Reporter] How a plane went psycho, injuring 100 passengers and crew. – You died six or seven
times on the operating table. – I am lucky to be here alive. – [Reporter] And destroying
once happy lives. – It got to the point where
I tried to take my own life. – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] The hero pilot who
fought against his own plane to save his passengers and crew. – [Man] Stall, stall. – The automation is
there to keep you safe, and was actually trying to kill us. – [Reporter] And how the
lessons of Qantas Flight 72 have gone unheeded. – All of us are deeply
sorry for the loss of life. – [Reporter] With two planes
crashing within six months of each other, killing
all 346 people on board. – When you see what’s happening with the 737 MAX accidents,
they’re the same. They were in no man’s land. They didn’t know what was happening. And their instinctive
reaction to pull back and stop the ground from hitting them was not enough to save the day. (slow music) – [Reporter] Kevin Sullivan
doesn’t fly anymore. What happened that day in the skies over the Indian Ocean has
affected him profoundly. – I could have hidden it, but
I think it’s more courageous to be honest with yourself and honest to say yeah, it’s affected me. I don’t shirk my responsibility as a commercial pilot and the captain. I reached the point where
it was best that I stop. – [Reporter] Growing up in California, Kevin always dreamed of being a pilot. And by his early 20s he was a Top Gun fighter pilot in the US Navy. – As a F-14 pilot in the Cold War I flew off aircraft carriers,
the landing area moves. At night you can’t see the landing area until you’re actually on it. We were essentially at war. We trained and flew to that
level of extreme readiness. – [Reporter] Then came an
opportunity to flyMirage jets as part of an exchange programme with the Royal Australian Air Force. – It’s a speed machine. At low level I’ve been very fast, over 600 knots, 1,200 kilometres an hour. (rock music) – [Reporter] The young
American loved Australia and those jets so much he
ended up settling here. After you, Kevin. – Thank you. How did you organise this? – [Reporter] What do you think? – [Kevin] Yeah, it’s pretty special. – [Reporter] The Mirage III, there she is. – We called it the French lady, or the Aussies did, and I do too. No, you can’t stand on the seat. – You need a degree just to get in. 35 years along life’s runway
and Kevin Sullivan’s love for his French lady hasn’t dimmed. – It’s just like getting
into a Formula 1 car. You don’t have much room. It becomes part of you. – Not a bad place to hone your skills. – There’s no automation on this thing. – (laughs) You need to know how to fly this one by hand, I tell ya. Kevin eventually moved
onto a job with Qantas flying its biggest passenger jets. (plane engines roaring) – How’s everything going? – Smooth sailing. – [Reporter] By October
2008, he’s had decades of experience as a commercial pilot. But it’s his time as a Top
Gun that will prove crucial. – We were coming up to the
northwest coast of Australia. We could see it out the windscreen. And the Indian Ocean was calm and blue. – [Reporter] On this clear,
blue day at the controls of a Qantas Airbus, Captain Kevin Sullivan is about to be tested in the
most dramatic way possible. (instruments beeping) – Autopilot one appears
to have disconnected. – When was the first
indication of trouble? – The autopilot disconnected. And then we started
getting stall warnings. – [Man] Stall, stall. (alarm ringing) Stall, stall. – It sounds like, “Stall, stall.” It means the plane will stop flying, it will start to go down. And then we started
getting overspeed warnings. – [Man] Stall, stall. – Stall warning and
overspeed at the same time. – It’s impossible. – It doesn’t make sense
to me because overspeed is you’re at your maximum limit and stall it means you’re
at your minimum speed limit. – What the hell? Get Pete back in here. – First officer to the
flight deck, please. – And then the plane started moving. And initially it was a dip. (dramatic music) – [Man] Stall, stall. (alarm ringing) – And then it started going down, pitching down aggressively
and violently down. (alarm ringing) It generated a force that
we had to brace ourselves against the instrument glare shield to stop from basically
hitting the ceiling, even with our seat belts secured. I was accelerating down
towards the Indian Ocean and certainly my windscreens were filled with the Indian Ocean. – [Man] Stall, stall. (alarm ringing) – QF72 is in a death dive and refusing to let Kevin take control. This is my broader understanding. So the plane’s flying along. The sensors are giving
some sort of information at the computer system that
the plane is pointed upwards so it tries to overcorrect. And then obviously points you back down. Is that a fair summary? – Yes, in a way. It’s saying, “Sorry,
Kev, I’m protecting you. “So I’m not going to let you stop me.” Like the HAL 9000 in
“2001: A Space Odyssey” where Dave asks him to
open the pod bay doors and HAL says, “I’m sorry, Dave. “I can’t let you do that.” I’m pulling back on the
stick and I’m saying, “Hey, HAL, stop moving the nose.” And it’s like, “I’m sorry,
Kev, I can’t let you do that.” – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] But no way is
this proud ex-fighter pilot going to let a rogue computer beat him. – [Man] Stall, stall. – I was in a near death position and I was going to fight to the death to make sure that didn’t happen. (mid-tempo music) – [Reporter] Qantas
Flight 72 from Singapore is cruising comfortably at 37,000 feet. – [Woman] I’ll have a glass
of white wine, please. – Glass of white wine. – [Reporter] In just over two hours, the Airbus A330 will land in Perth. It’s been a routine flight. Some of the passengers onboard are off duty Qantas staff
returning from holidays. Among them, Bruce Southcott,
a flight services manager travelling with his wife, Caroline. – Aircraft was flying flat and still. And I watched the glass of wine
sit there without a ripple. (alarm ringing) – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] But up in the cockpit the plane’s flight control
system is going haywire. – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] The aircraft’s computers are telling Captain Kevin Sullivan his plane is about to stall. – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] And then suddenly
the plane is hurtling down towards the Indian Ocean. – There wasn’t really any first sign. It just happened. Like the hand of God had just
pushed the aircraft down. There was no woo, let’s
go, as a rollercoaster. It was just like, slam. – [Reporter] Bruce is
wearing his seat belt. (dramatic music) But Caroline is just coming
back from the toilet. – I remember getting hit
on the head with the plane. And I just went bang. And before I could think, bang again. And then the third bang, my head went through the cabin ceiling. After the third time it hit me on the head I pretty much was knocked out. – [Reporter] An off duty
Qantas pilot, Peter Casey and his wife, Diana, a Qantas
customer service manager, have left their seats to say hello to flight attendant Fuzzy Maiava. – Fuzzy, God love him, was down there checking out the catering, as he does. The three of us chatting away. – I placed my meal in the oven. I was focused on the timer,
you see, ’cause I was hungry. And then when I saw the exact
time on it, it was 13 seconds. And that’s when I saw the corner of my eye someone had just shot up. And I just sort of looked down and the plane was
disappearing from my feet. (body thudding) – I heard a slight change in
the airflow of the aeroplane, and I thought, oh, this is interesting. And the next thing you know, whomp, up we went. – I must have hit something,
must have hit the ceiling ’cause I just, I was knocked out. – The three of us up in the ceiling probably only for seconds but it seemed like an eternity. – [Reporter] The Casey’s daughters, 17-year-old Becky and 18-year-old Elise, are at the front of the cabin. – The first nosedive, my sister, she grabbed onto the bottom of her chair, and she looked up at me as I
was on the top of the aeroplane. – [Reporter] You were actually
pinned to the ceiling? – Yeah. – [Reporter] Feel like forever? – It did. It felt like a few minutes. (alarm ringing) – [Reporter] Back in the
cockpit, Kevin Sullivan is desperately trying to take
back control of his plane. – [Man] Stall, stall. – We’re basically fighting
for our lives at this stage. – They had to very quickly discover what part of the aeroplane
was trying to kill them and how to stop it from doing so. – [Reporter] If there’s any other pilot who understands exactly
what Captain Sullivan is facing, it’s the other Sully. Captain Chesley Sullenberger
lost both his engines in a bird strike and had to land his plane in New York’s Hudson River. – Captain, I’d like
your insight if I could. I’m trying to tap into I guess
the anguish of that moment, what it must have been like for the pilot. – Well at first it would
have been confusing, surprising, a huge startle factor. And then one would
immediately begin to act to regain control of the aeroplane. – [Reporter] Kevin Sullivan’s next move is completely counter-intuitive. Instead of pulling back on the
control stick, he lets it go. – I have a choice to make, do I hold onto it, or do I release it? My military training for out of control is to release, neutralise controls. – [Reporter] It works. The plane is no longer
falling from the sky. But now passengers are being
smashed back down to the floor. (dramatic music) (metal clanging) – We heard an almighty
crash coming from the cabin. And that was the people’s bodies. That was the galleys coming apart. And it sounds like a 40
foot shipping container full of cutlery and glass that is sent down a
ramp into a brick wall. – I just came crashing down. My sister, she was eating, and her fork went in my arm. (laughs) Got a bit stuck when I came down. It’s the little things that you remember. – When I came back down I hit the armrest. – Armrest, yeah. – And then I realised that all my bones were clicking in my back, and I realised that there was something
terribly wrong, very wrong. I couldn’t move off the floor. The staff were asking me
to go back to my chair. And I couldn’t get up at all, I couldn’t move my legs at all. – [Reporter] Your legs weren’t working? – Nope. My ankle was broken. So my ankle was just sort of hanging. Eventually another passenger
came and picked me up and put me in my chair. – Hit the galley bench. That’s what woke me up. All I could hear was the
crushing sounds my knee is going. I don’t know what the heck is going on. All I see is blood rushing
out of Peter’s head. And Diana, she’s unconscious. And then I see the two
girls I was looking after. Oh man, one of them who
was sat on the aisle seat, she stuck her hand out to me and she was just crying. And to me, that’s like my own daughter. I mean, I just couldn’t do anything. And I just felt so helpless
because I couldn’t move. (dramatic music) – [Reporter] Back in the
cockpit, Kevin Sullivan has pulled the plane
out of its death dive. – What the hell was that? – [Reporter] But he’s
still fighting for control. – It’s the primary flight computer. – Now we’re in this revolver
of faulting systems. – In effect, this is a
total system collapse. – The plane is starting to melt down. – Automatic brake’s not working. Four is not working. – Let’s get us back up to 37,000 feet. – I’m still pretty coherent. Yes, my cages are a little bit rattled because we don’t know what’s happening. – [Reporter] And just two minutes later– – Don’t you do it. – [Reporter] It happens again. (dramatic music) – I’m basically a passenger,
I’m an observer now. The automation that’s there is supposed to be keeping me safe, not putting me into harm’s way. And I got very angry. – I thought it was the end. – Really? It was so violent you thought
you were going to die? – Yeah. I think being so young as well and not having experienced life
outside of high school yet, you don’t really know what
to expect in the big world. And honestly, I just thought that was it. – All I could hear was the
sounds that we were going to die. But you just hope to God
that it happens quick. – Death? – Yes, and I don’t want to feel any pain. I was frozen like a block of ice just waiting for it to happen. (slow dramatic music) – [Reporter] Once again, Kevin Sullivan’s military training saves his plane. – We have lost auto pitch trim. – [Reporter] But he has no idea if, or when, it will happen again. – Another failure in trim three. Reset? – No, no. – [Reporter] Everyone responds
to trauma differently. Kevin Sullivan cracks a joke. He picks a line from another of his favourite movies, “Flying High”. – Looks like I picked a bad
day to quit sniffing glue. – [Reporter] First Officer Peter
Lipsett had been on a break when the plane went into its dive. He’s injured, but he makes
it back to the cockpit. – That’s a shit fight out there. I think I’ve just broken my nose. – Congratulations. Strap in, we’re in trouble. – I made the assessment
that we were in trouble. And I’ve never used those
terms in any situation prior to that in my extreme flying career. (instruments beeping) – Mayday, mayday, mayday, Qantas 72, Qantas 72, flight control computer malfunctions and we have significant injuries onboard. – [Reporter] Kevin Sullivan
is in the fight of his life. The Qantas captain has
twice managed to stop his out of control plane from plunging into the Indian Ocean. – Tracking direct to Learmonth. – [Reporter] He needs to get
his 315 passengers and crew down onto the ground fast
before it happens again. He heads for the nearest airport,
the RAAF base at Learmonth on Western Australia’s northwest coast. – I couldn’t risk exposing
myself and the passengers to an out of control aeroplane
any longer than I had to. And Learmonth was just off our left wing, and that’s where we decided to go. – [Reporter] In the cabin behind him, more than 100 passengers are injured. – [Woman] What’s happening? – [Reporter] Many have
been knocked unconscious. Others have broken bones
and bleeding wounds. – Ladies and gentlemen,
this is the flight deck. All passengers to fasten
seat belts immediately. – [Reporter] Caroline
Southcott is in absolute agony. Her back is broken, and
a single piece of skin is keeping her foot attached to her leg. But she no choice, she
has to sit in her seat. – I was really worried my bones were going to go through my spinal cord, so I had to hold myself up on the armrest for it must have been 45, 50 minutes. – It wouldn’t have been
easy ’cause she said she could physically
feel and hear her spine just grating like that against each other. – Yeah, it was a very funny noise. Prior to that I’ve never
had pain, bad pain. So it was a matter of life and death. It was a matter of suck it up, princess, you’ve got to do something here. (both laughing) – [Reporter] Caroline now notices that her nearly severed left
foot is facing backwards. – During all this pain she looked down at her ankle and said, “That’s not right. “I’m not happy with that.” She pulled the ankle forward, rotated it, and clicked it back into place. – Yeah, reset it. I think there was no choice. It was fight or die. – [Reporter] In the rear galley Peter and Diana are all badly injured. Fuzzy is desperate to get to
the two unaccompanied children he is looking after,
but his legs won’t work. – I couldn’t even move. I wanted to, I tried so much to reach out. And I knew I could not move. – [Reporter] Peter is bleeding
profusely from a head wound. Diana has suffered a badly
injured back and shoulder. But somehow, she finds the strength to help the people around her. (slow music) – I tell you what, Diana,
man, she was incredible. She’s like, she reminded me of The Hulk. You know, adrenaline came out of her and she could lift anything. And she made it happen. And I can hear Diana saying,
“Okay, Fuzzy, you’re next.” – Come on, nearly there. – [Fuzzy] Man. – [Diana] There we go, just
going to put your belt on. – She was incredible. I’m telling you right now, man, that lady deserves
recognition for what she did. – [Reporter] Pretty amazing
wife you have there. – Mm, very proud of her. Very proud. – Diana Casey is one of the
true heroes of this story, but you won’t hear her speak. It’s an slap in the face to
Diana’s extraordinary courage, but Qantas has refused to let Diana or any of its current staff be
interviewed for this programme. As a former employee, Fuzzy Maiava isn’t bound by such
small-minded constraints. – How on Earth did she
manage to get Fuzzy, if you’ll allow me, a reasonably big unit, up off the ground into the seat? – Oh man, she just sort of
like just grabbed my hands, and just grabbed me. And I felt like I was being
pulled by a 6’8″ (laughs) athlete, you know. And then she just looked at me and she just shook me and says, “We’re going to be okay,” and she gave me a kiss
on the forehead and said, “You’re going to be fine.” – In circumstances like that the pilot in the cockpit gives an order for people to sit down immediately. Well, that’s what they got to do. But in this circumstance there were people that were unsecured, and
she took it upon herself to break the protocol because a need to, and I totally completely agree with her, there was a need to, to care for people that needed to be secured. (dramatic music) – Final check. – [Reporter] With dozens of his passengers requiring urgent medical attention, Kevin Sullivan now has to
land his crippled Airbus A330 on that remote airfield at Learmonth. – Okay, we’re on visual approach. Manual thrust. Manual pitch trim. – [Reporter] He’s now flying
his aircraft entirely by hand. But Kevin knows that at any moment, the plane’s computer might
try to wrest back control. – Gear down. (instruments beeping) – [Kevin] 1,000 feet, but now we know that at this point if something happens we don’t have the altitude to recover. – Don’t you do it. (tyres squealing) (people applauding) – I remember when we
landed, everyone clapped. – Kevin’s job was outstanding under what I would believe to be immense pressure. – [Reporter] Did you allow
yourself just the briefest moment to look down at your arms and legs and think, my goodness, I’m alive? – No, I made another quip. I did my Arnie impersonation
from True Lies. I said, “Ya, a little bit of excitement, “otherwise dull day,”
as we’re rolling down– – You’re not even joking, are you? – I’m serious, yeah, of course, because yeah, okay, so that’s my release. – [Reporter] Only now is Kevin
Sullivan able to walk back through his aircraft
to inspect the damage. (dramatic music) (child crying) – I call it the walk that changed my life. It’s quite confronting. The interior of the cabin
was almost destroyed. There are holes above the
seats where passenger’s heads have punctured the plastic,
and there’s lots of ’em. Of course, there were children,
children had huge contusions on their heads where some were bleeding, and the parents are
holding their children, trying to console them. As I walked past, the look of, look what you did to my
kid, will never leave. – There was almost a moment for you as you made that walk where you felt it that your heart was breaking. Is that true? – Yes. Time out. (laughs) So this is a critical part. That’s a valid question. – I imagine that’s one of the most significant moments of your life. I’m the head honcho. I’m the one that has to show
leadership and strength. But it’s pretty hard when emotional chunks are being ripped off you as
you move through the aeroplane. (dramatic music) – [Reporter] Qantas Flight 72 has landed at the remote Learmonth air strip on the northwest coast
of Western Australia. Captain Kevin Sullivan has
brought his plane down safely. But with so many lives in the balance, the emergency is far from over. (sirens wailing) Local rescue crews
swarm through the plane. – The emergency services
crew came onboard, and it was just like, it was chaos. The pain was unbearable. I think I nearly passed out. And the next minute I got a morphine stick stuck in my mouth. Yeah, “Suck on that, big fella.” – I imagine that was a pretty big relief. – Yeah, he said, “Suck
on that, big fella.” I can remember that,
“Suck on that, big fella.” (muffled talking) – The safest course of action
was for me to come into here, not only because of
the aeroplane behaviour but also the injuries
that we’ve all sustained. – [Reporter] In the
terminal, Captain Sullivan grabs a megaphone and
addresses the passengers who’ve made it off the Airbus uninjured. (muffled talking) – The runway looked pretty good to me. (people laughing) (people applauding) I made some comment about the runway looked pretty damn good to me
as we rolled out for landing. And at that point, everybody
was cheering again. (dramatic music) – [Reporter] Kevin is
relieved to be on the ground, but he now knows what was
happening in the cabin while he was wrestling
for control of the plane. More than 100 passengers are
injured, some critically. – There were accelerated into the ceiling and with such a force that their heads broke through the plastic– – It’s not soft. – [Kevin] It’s aviation grade plastic. (dramatic music) – [Reporter] The most seriously injured are airlifted to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Among them, Caroline Southcott. – The pain in my back, it was pretty bad. I can remember just
fighting to keep breathing, because I thought if I stop
breathing I’ll go unconscious and then no one’s going to get me back. – You’re initially thinking about, well, what’s post-injury going to be like? How is she going to walk, and
will she walk, and all that. And then they take it to the next level and say to ya, “Well no,
what we’re saying here “is that her survival is in doubt.” And that’s when I went, “Oh.” That’s when you do freak. – [Reporter] She’s rushed
into emergency surgery with a broken back. Her life is slipping away. – You died six or seven
times on the operating table. – I’m lucky I can walk and I’m
lucky to be here alive, yeah. – How would you describe the surgery that Caroline went through? – In her graphic terms? – [Reporter] Yeah. – “They cut me down here and
then they put me gizzards “on the table so they could get to it.” Like your spine’s on your
back, as everyone knows. But the injury had to be addressed from the front of the spine. So they had to do all that. And then put everything back
in place and stitch her up. – They put it on the
table and did their work and then they put it back in again. – Threw it back in. – [Reporter] But there’s pain
behind Caroline’s laughter. Her body is now a miracle
of surgical architecture. – They were able to replace
my vertebrae with a cage, and biological cement and bone from my hip that I can even move. It’s not 100%, but it’s
better than it was. Here they come. – Geesey, geesies. – Come on goosey, goosey, goose. – [Bruce] Food. – [Reporter] Then there’s
the mental anguish. Nowadays, Bruce and Caroline
live as near recluses on their property in Queensland. It’s one of the few places they feel safe. (slow music) Becky refuses to fly and lives
with the trauma every day. – [Reporter] I can see how painful it is, these memories that
you’re still living with. It’s still very real. – Very. Very. – How has this changed you? – I’m quite an emotional
ball now. (laughs) I saw psychologists. They diagnosed me with PTSD. It’s not a fun thing
to have when you’re 17. I was medicated until I was
pregnant with my first child, and that’s when I had to come off them. Yeah, it’s not a nice thing
when you’re a teenager. – [Reporter] Flight attendant Fuzzy Maiava can’t work anymore
because of his injuries. – I had to replace both knees. I have now got two titanium knees. And I ruptured a spleen and my spine. I have seven damaged discs. That’s a pain I get every day, and they trigger on the
nightmares and the flashbacks. (dramatic music) It’s really severe, it’s really bad. I can’t even sleep properly at night. I toss and turn, and that’s
when the flashbacks come. So in order for me to get around that, I keep hitting the wall
just to ground myself. – Gee, Fuzzy, that is an enormous thing for one person to have to deal with. Even now you’re still having flashbacks, still hitting the wall. – Mate, it got to a point,
the seriousness of it, it got to the point where I
tried to take my own life. I ended up in ICU for a coma for a week because I couldn’t take it any longer. The pain was unbearable. I had been medically retired as well, and I thought to myself, what’s happening? It was like I’d been just discarded. – Some of the victims of QF72 received six-figure
payouts, but not Fuzzy. As an employee, Qantas
offered him just $33,000, a settlement he rejected on legal advice. In the end, this proud
man was left with nothing. Fuzzy, do you feel as though
you were properly supported? – Like I said, I have the
greatest respect for Qantas. – [Reporter] It’s a
tough question, I know. – Yes. – I can see that even now you’re reluctant to criticise the airline that you loved. But the reality is that
for you some support, any support would have made
the world of difference. – It would have helped me and my family a great deal, to be honest. – [Reporter] Kevin Sullivan didn’t suffer any physical injuries, but the events of that day continue to haunt him. Three years ago, he made the difficult decision to stop flying. – You hold onto those images, those memories as if they were yesterday. And that’s just what your brain does when you’re in this sort of
near-death traumatic experience. Your brain records in high definition, and it stays in there. It doesn’t go away. (dramatic music) – [Reporter] Qantas Flight 72
was cruising at 37,000 feet when the onboard computer
suddenly went haywire. (alarm ringing) – [Man] Stall, stall. – [Reporter] Sending the
plane hurtling downwards. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau blamed incorrect data for the emergency, but it hasn’t been able to
explain how or why that happened. It all sounds eerily similar to the recent Boeing MAX crashes. (slow music) In those two cases, flight
computers reacted to faulty data. The pilots couldn’t regain control of their planes, and 346 people died. – It’s important also to remember that while humans are often
the least predictable part of the safety system, they are by far the most resilient and adaptable, the ones who can confront a challenge they’ve never seen before,
and in a short period of time figure out a way to
solve even that crisis. (people cheering) – [Reporter] Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the hero of the Hudson River landing, believes that replacing pilot skills with increased automation
is a fatal mistake. – What we’ve learned in
aviation is that automation does not decrease errors. But it changes the nature
of errors that are made. As we use more and more
technology in the cockpits, we must always make sure that the humans are in complete control of the
aircraft and its flight path. (mid-tempo music) – [Reporter] As a former
elite fighter pilot, Kevin Sullivan had the skills to bring his plane down safely. The passengers and crew of QF72 know they were incredibly lucky. – This guy saved my life. And he gave me an opportunity to be here, and I am breathing, I’m here, I’m here in the flesh because of that man. – [Reporter] Fuzzy
Maiava is now campaigning to get Captain Sullivan
and his flight crew the recognition they deserve. – I think they deserve the
Qantas Diamond Chairman Award, and also the Cross of Valour. I believe that’s Australia’s
highest civilian bravery award. So if you’re out there,
please sign that petition so it’ll help get Kevin and his men acknowledged and recognised
for what they did. – We owe our lives, period. – Mm, yeah, everyone does. – Do you think he should
be recognised for that? – [Caroline] Absolutely. – Knighted. (laughs) – Knighted. He definitely saved 315 people’s lives. – [Bruce] Yeah. – [Reporter] Hero? – Definitely. Definitely, without a doubt. – [Reporter] What would you say to him? – Thank you. And give him a big hug. – [Reporter] Becky can’t get
on a plane to deliver that hug. (slow music) But Fuzzy Maiava has bravely
cast aside his fear of flying and flown from New Zealand
to thank his hero in person. – And I know you still
think about the passengers. They’re very top of mind for you. We actually have one of them here now to say a bit of a hello. – Is that right? – He’s just over there,
over your left shoulder. You might remember this young man. – Kevin, hey, come on. Oh, mate. (laughs) Good to see you, my brother. – Fuzzy.
– Good to see you. (laughs) – [Kevin] Yeah. – Oh, mate, you look–
– Welcome. – Thank you. Oh, my brother. Oh, mate. Mate. – [Reporter] He has been
dying to see you, Kev. – I have been, yeah. – Fuzzy, is this the
first time you’ve flown? – Yes, this is the first. Mate, I’ve been dying to meet up with you. You’re the reason I’m here. If it wasn’t for you,
Kevin, we would not be here. – Well–
– And I’m serious. – Thank you, Fuzzy. – A lot of people may
have said it’s their job, they get paid for it. No, this is very unique. And that’s why I was so passionate in trying to get this in the public realm to get the Qantas Group and
the Australian government to acknowledge and recognise you because this is something
unique and it’s unheard of. And that’s why I’m so passionate
and I’ll never give up. I will never give up for you, brother. I will never give up. (men laughing) – [Reporter] And those calls
for recognition are taking off. What Kevin Sullivan achieved that day has come to represent a line in the sand for pilots who refuse to
relinquish any more control of their planes to computers. – Captain Sullivan, from
one Sully to another, I congratulate you on having
built and led your team well in facing such an extreme crisis on QF72, keeping your passengers and crew safe. And since you’re a former
US Navy naval aviator and fighter pilot, bravo
zulu, I salute you.

Stephen Childs


  1. It is so nice that there alive it breaks my heart to see them haft to go through that I’m glade that there safe

  2. Great pilots and crew… They deserve so much recognition and they should feel very proud….

  3. The pilot who used to drop bombs on civilian was rattled by sight of human carnage?.

  4. Fuzzy Maiava..God treats all men equally, Qantas don't. From a fellow Micronesian to a Samoan I fully support what you are doing. My prayers goes to you, your family and all of those who suffered from this unfortunate incident. May you prevail with God's Blessing!

  5. This is exactly what happens, when things are too much automated. People can always do mistakes, but they are usually noticed and fixed. Machines are not flawless either, since they are made by humans. If there is a problem, the machine doesn´t understand it´s wrong. It just keeps going, and like former captain Sullenberg said, you can´t let the automation be in control. Humans must always have ”the final word”.

    Airplane manufactors don´t take responsibility. Not in this case, and not at Boeing 737 MAX accidents. They try to cover up their mistakes, and i am afraid more is to come in the future. I watched 60 minute documentary about Boeing aircrafts history and about the pressure they had, when Airbus announced they were gonna launch new aircraft, so Boeing had to quickly do the same. Yes, QUICKLY. And what does that mean? Sloppy job with low costs. It´s always about more money, more profits.

    This captain saved these people´s lifes and he deserves all the gratitudes and praises in the world. I hope he can have long and peaceful retirement years.

  6. why doesn't he get the apriation he deserves?!🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

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