Sully Named To ICAO


The Senate last week confirmed Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger as its ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Sullenberger was the pilot monitoring when US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from La Guardia Airport in January of 2009, killing both engines on the A320. He took control from FO Jeff Skiles and deadsticked the airliner to a fatality-free ditching on the Hudson River. The instant fame of the “Miracle on the Hudson” pilots gave them platforms to comment on aviation issues and Sullenberger is a frequent commentator on safety issues especially.

As the U.S. representative to the ICAO, Sullenberger will have a prominent voice in issues of international concern and, as President Joe Biden’s nominee, he has already made it known that he wants Belarus to at least temporarily lose its vote on ICAO. The Belarus government forced a Ukrainian airliner to land in Belarus so it could arrest a dissident opposition leader who had fled the country to avoid arrest. A lot of Sullenberger’s time is expected to be taken up with the effort to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint. Biden has said he wants tough carbon reduction standards to be set for aviation, which is currently under no emissions restriction targets at all. ICAO is expected to take up the issue at meetings next February.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Kudos and thanks to Sully for agreeing to represent the US to the ICAO. It’s good to know that someone is willing to confront the Alexander Lukashenkos of the world about forcing airliners to land strictly for political purposes. As someone who has lived and worked the real world he’ll also be realistic and trustworthy about what can and cannot be accomplished in the reduction of aviation’c carbon footprint.

  2. I find it interesting that the current administration is pushing for “tough” carbon emission standards for aircraft, saying that there are no current “standards”. That gives the impression manufacturers and the airlines don’t care about the environment. This, in spite of the fact that aircraft and engine manufacturers have voluntarily worked for decades to produce more fuel efficient engines that have lower particulate and carbon emissions. All modern airliners have significantly lower emissions per passenger seat mile than ever before and the major airlines are investing in sustainable fuels technology to further reduce carbon output. Sounds to me like the industry is doing a pretty good job without the government’s “help”. Having a bunch of government bureaucrats decide on reductions targets isn’t going to accomplish anything of value.

  3. Sure… Ultra high bypass turbine engines are more efficient and less polluting per seat mile than older turbine engines, but the number of transport aircraft in the skies worldwide each day has skyrocketed. So making actual reductions (or slowing the increases) in CO2 and other combustion byproducts being injected into the upper atmosphere is a good goal to have. As a retired airline captain himself—and a current Merlin turboprop GA pilot—I don’t think Sully is going to push for any drastic pollution reductions that significantly harm airframers, engine builders, or airlines. Sully is a very smart guy with his head screwed on straight. Don’t reflexively poke him in the eye due to a personal political difference you may have. Give the man the benefit of your doubt in his new job until he gives you good reason not to.

  4. Kind of sick of hearing about this liberal fool. Just another adherent to the “I know better than you how you should live your life” ideology.

  5. Even as a conservative it’s tough to fault Sully for his politics, and to try to do so is folly.

    He has lived his life as a fine American, and was a Republican until recently.

    He served our country as an Air Force pilot, and has led an exemplary family life.

    Even though I disagree with those who lean liberal politically, Sully is a guy I’d gladly buy a beer for and enjoy his company and appreciate his side of our disagreements.

    • To each his own. I very much appreciate his service to our country and his fine airmanship. I have no use for any man (or woman) who wants to put into power people who have told me they will do everything they can to limit my rights, my freedom and my pursuit of the same. These people (like Sully) are very dangerous in their shallow critical thought and emotional responses. He lost me entirely when he went public with his hurt feelings over Trump’s tweets and went out of his way to elect the fool we have now and the democrats who want to change forever our country with a soul crushing social/economic agenda. No thanks, wouldn’t spend 5 minutes with the fool who supports an ideology that argues men can give birth.

      • Completely agree and entertainingly said. Now that the Dem wreaking-ball has been in play for nearly 11 months, perhaps Sully didn’t expect or get what he voted for.

        • He wasn’t listening or isn’t smart enough to understand cause and effect. Obviously it’s not the latter, so, it must be his starving for media attention after basking in the warm glow of deity adulation that was hoisted upon him for so long. One would miss that!