CHARLOTTE, N.C. TheStreet) -- Hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger retired from US Airways (LCC) on Wednesday, saying he wants to spend more time advocating for aviation safety and pursuing opportunities resulting from the "Miracle on the Hudson."
Sullenberger retired 14 months after the January 2009 incident, where he safely landed an A320 on the Hudson River off Manhattan, and just six months after moving into a job in Phoenix as a member of US Airways' flight operations safety management team. That job enabled him to severely limit commutes from his home in California to Charlotte, where he was based, and to focus on safety.
"The pace hasn't slowed as much as we expected, and there are so many other obligations and demands on my time and opportunities, quite frankly, that are of a limited time nature," said Sullenberger, who plans to give speeches and also write a second book. On Tuesday, he was in the bookstore at the Charlotte airport, signing copies of his first book, "Highest Duty."US Airways had planned a ceremony to commemorate the retirement, but those plans were scuttled. Instead, Sullenberger met briefly with reporters and joined fellow pilots in the airport crew room. "He said 'I don't want the hoopla, I want to go out like every other pilot," said US Airline Pilots Association spokesman James Ray. Ray said Sullenberger will speak Wednesday to a medical group in Atlanta, on the subject of bringing the best parts of airline safety culture to the medical profession. "He will speak about resource management techniques -- tracking errors, having safety checklists and getting others to speak up rather than just the head surgeon," Ray said. "In this industry, it used to be the captain was God and the first officer would not speak up, but that has changed." On safety matters, Ray and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles, who flew with him on Wednesday as well as on Flight 1549, spoke repeatedly of the stark contrasts between their successful landing, after geese flew into both of the airplane's engines, and the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009. The crash, which killed 50 people, was attributed to pilot error that reflected crew fatigue, limited experience and inadequate training requirements.
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