I want to chime in with others who have praised AKA's review. Excellent job! I like how you tie it up with themes that run through Eastwood's career. I would add to your last point, the "value of decades of human experience" ... that is a theme also in Space Cowboys, and perhaps more relevant to Sully than even Trouble with the Curve.
I finally saw Sully today, unfortunately not in IMAX ... the friend I went with doesn't like the theaters where it's playing in that format. We both really enjoyed it. Even though you already know everyone survived, it really makes you feel the horror of what passengers and crew were going through ... and what Sully, who had all their lives in his hands, was going through as well. The emotional high point came shortly after the crash, when Sully learned that the count of rescued passengers ... was 155, same as the number on board.
I realize the drama surrounding the events after the crash was contrived for the screenplay (the investigation wasn't actually that confrontational) but considering that this is a fiction film, not a documentary, it was probably necessary in order to make the story satisfactorily structured. The landing itself was too brief to take up a whole feature film, and had it only been a story of Sully's triumph, I don't think it would have attracted Clint's attention, and probably not the audience's, either. You needed a conflict beyond that, something that would call Sully's heroism into question, also for himself, yet leave him vindicated at the end.
In a way, this is Clint's lightest film in years. Even though there is so much potential horror, the audience has the advantage of knowing that everyone was safe despite it all, and when Sully triumphs in the hearing, it's a happy ending for everyone involved, the investigators included. How long has it been since there was an Eastwood-directed film of which it can be said, as of the title song in Honkytonk Man, "Nobody dies in this one"?