Sullenberger: FAA Cuts Will Endanger Americans

Sunday, 01 May 2011 10:19 AM

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Retired pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who famously landed an airliner on the Hudson River off Manhattan after mechanical failure in 2009, warns that proposed cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will cripple the already inadequate industry watchdog.

“If we chose to cut it, then we need to do it with our eyes wide open and to be upfront and honest with the American people, and tell them that we are choosing to cut the budget, knowing full well that one of the possible implications is that we will not have properly staffed regulatory agencies, that we will not have done the very best we can to take into account what we've learned,” Sullenberger told TheDailyBeast during an interview about proposed FAA cuts and other issues facing Americans who fly.

“By not doing these things, we're increasing the risk that at some future unknown date, someone will come to harm that otherwise would not have.”

Sullenberger also discussed pilot and controller fatigue, describing techniques and changes he believes are necessary.

“Sometimes, one of us stands up while the other is strapped in,” Sullenberger said. “Sometimes, turning the cockpit lights to bright will help. Sometimes, a cup of coffee, used strategically, will help. But these are coping mechanisms. The real answer is to build intelligently designed, realistic schedules that allow for pilots to get sufficient rest before their duty period. Anything else is a Band-Aid.”

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