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Sullenberger nominated as ICAO ambassador

June 17, 2021

President Joe Biden tapped retired airline captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, best known for his starring role in a real-life ditching later made into a movie, to lead the U.S. Mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Retired airline Capt. Chesley Sullenberger III has been nominated to lead the U.S. Mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Photo by David Tulis.

Sullenberger’s nomination to be the new ICAO ambassador was announced along with a slate of nominations of less familiar names to various posts. Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles ditched US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River in 2009, notably with no loss of life, after geese knocked out both engines of their Airbus A320 shortly after takeoff. The events of that day made “Sully” a household name, and he has put his star power to work as an advocate for aviation safety, and aviation overall. In 2017, Sullenberger spoke out against air traffic control privatization, helping to kill a proposal that would have endangered the future of aviation.

Upon Senate confirmation, Sullenberger would be the eighteenth representative of the United States to serve on the international body created by the United Nations in 1947 to harmonize aviation standards and regulations worldwide.

“Captain Sullenberger certainly understands aviation and its global reach, and the United States and ICAO would benefit greatly from his experience, knowledge, and leadership,” said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon.

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