Sully Sullenberger Selected as U.S. Ambassador to ICAO

 - June 16, 2021, 10:16 AM

President Joe Biden is nominating C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger III—famed for his role in the successful “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency landing—to serve as the ambassador representing the U.S. on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the White House announced Tuesday. A safety advocate, author, and keynote speaker, Sullenberger is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and retired airline pilot who has amassed more than 20,000 flight hours.

He became known for his skills as a pilot in 2009, while as captain of US Airways Flight 1549 he and his crew successfully ditched their Airbus A320 into the Hudson River after the aircraft struck a large flock of Canadian geese upon takeoff from New York LaGuardia Airport and lost thrust from both engines. All 155 people on board survived and there were only a few injuries.

A 1973 U.S. Air Force graduate, Sullenberger flew the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II for the service and was stationed in North America and Europe. In 1980, he became an airline pilot with Pacific Southwest Airlines, which was later acquired by US Airways, beginning what became a 30-year career.

Throughout that career, Sullenberger has been a safety advocate, performing accident investigation duties for the U.S. Air Force and serving as an Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representative during a National Transportation Safety Board accident investigation. He held leadership roles within ALPA and helped to develop and implement a crew resource management course that was used by US Airways and taught to other airline crewmembers. Sullenberger further has served as a NASA aviation safety research consultant. 

The selection of Sullenberger received strong backing from NBAA. “I can think of no one better to represent U.S. aviation interests at ICAO than Capt. Sullenberger,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We all know his heroism, and he has been an ardent safety advocate and aviation expert for his entire 50-year flying career. He is also a champion for our industry, repeatedly speaking out for business aviation in public.”