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Wed, Mar 03, 2010

Sullenberger Heading For The Hangar

Will Retire After 30 Years With US Airways

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who famously ditched a US Airways A320 in the Hudson River over a year ago saving all aboard, says he's calling it a career after 30 years with the airline.

Sullenberger, 59, was scheduled to fly his final flight to his home airport, Charlotte Douglas International in North Carolina, Wednesday afternoon. An official ceremony will be held there with other pilots and employees retiring from the airline.

Television station WNBC in New York reports that Sullenberger said in a written statement “Though I am retiring, I will continue to serve as the same kind of advocate I have always been – not only for aviation safety, but for the airline piloting profession. I will work to remind the entire industry – and those who manage and regulate it – that we have a sacred duty to our passengers to do the very best that we know how to do.” But he also expressed some discontent with the airline industry as it is today. “Each generation of pilots hopes that they will leave their profession better off than they found it. In spite of the best efforts of thousands of my colleagues, that is not the case today," the pilot wrote.

Jeff Skiles, the First Officer who was with Sullenberger on the now-famous Flight 1549, was scheduled to fly the final flight with him on Wednesday. Sullenberger said he plans to stay active as an advocate for improvements in airline regulations and policy concerning fatigue and pilot qualifications, but that he also plans to spend more time with his family.

Members of the US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), representing the pilots of US Airways, joined Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III, Wednesday to celebrate his retirement.

“Sully has always been a pilot’s pilot and a fine example of a professional aviator. He has also done a remarkable job of focusing the American public’s attention on the need for well-trained and experienced pilots at the controls of commercial aircraft,” said Mike Cleary, president of USAPA. “Sully’s final flight reminds us all that another veteran pilot is leaving the skies – and an experienced, well-trained pilot is the single most important component of safety on any aircraft. Congress, airline companies and the flying public should demand that the next generation of expert aviators have incentives to do the hard work to take the place of Sully and the many others nearing retirement age – and not to further tarnish this once-proud profession.”

“It was the investments made in years past that helped attract the Captain Sullenbergers to the airline pilot profession,” said Cleary. “We must now find the will to once again invest in our pilot employees to encourage the best and brightest to enter and remain in our profession. When things go wrong, we want a Captain Sullenberger in the cockpit.”

Over his career, Captain Sullenberger worked for US Airways and its predecessor airlines for 30 years. He served as a check airman, helped create the Crew Resource Management (CRM) course used throughout the industry, testified before Congress regarding pilot safety, and is a sought-after speaker on the topics of preparation, life-long education and constant preparedness.

President Cleary added, “Sully’s fellow pilots will miss him, and we wish him godspeed during his well-deserved retirement.”




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