MIAMI – The US Senate has named Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

When US Airways Flight 1549 collided with a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in January 2009, both engines of the A320 were destroyed. Capt. Sullenberger assumed command of the plane from FO Jeff Skiles and piloted it to a safe landing on the Hudson River.

And so, within 10 minutes after takeoff, the aircraft’s pilots and crew would become famous around the world for their professional and heroic behavior; their quick action saved the lives of 150 passengers.

Due to the “Miracle on the Hudson,” the rapid rise to celebrity status provided Capt. Sully with a platform to remark on aviation concerns. The Capt. is a frequent commenter on industry safety matters.

Photo: Chris Gardner, USACE New York District Public Affairs

Issues at Hand


Sullenberger will be a major voice in international affairs as the United States’ representative to the ICAO. As President Joe Biden’s candidate, the Capt. has already stated that he wants Belarus to lose its ICAO vote, at least temporarily.

In May of this year, a Ryanair (FR) flight was compelled to land in Belarus by the Belarusian government in order to apprehend a dissident opposition leader who had fled the country to avoid detention. By June, the European Union had banned Belarus airlines from flying over EU airspace or landing at bloc airports.

Additionally, Sullenberger is likely to devote a significant amount of his time to efforts to minimize aviation’s carbon footprint, according to avweb.com. Biden has stated that he wants severe carbon reduction rules for aviation, which currently has no emissions objectives in place.

The topic of carbon emissions is scheduled to be discussed at ICAO meetings in February 2022.


Featured image: Capt. Sullenberger at the LIONS World Convention 2010 in Sydney. Photo: Frederick J. Phillips – Own work, CC BY 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12465509