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Hero pilot: Airlines in shambles

Capt. Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, the pilot of the unlikely Hudson River landing, says that the airline industry can no longer attract the 'best and the brightest.'

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who has been heralded as a hero for successfully landing a crippled US Airways flight in the Hudson River, told U.S. lawmakers Tuesday that the state of the airline industry is in disarray.

"Americans have experienced huge economic difficulties in recent months, but airline employees have been experiencing those challenges and more for eight years," Sullenberger said. "We've been hit by an economic tsunami, September 11, bankruptcies, fluctuating fuel prices, mergers, loss of pensions, and revolving door management teams who have used airline employees as an ATM."

Sullenberger testified before a House subcommittee along with others involved in last month's emergency landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. All five crew members and 150 passengers survived.

Sullenberger expressed concern that the economic decline has hit the airline industry so hard that "the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest."

"I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps," he said.

"The current experience and skills of our country's professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek professional careers elsewhere." To top of page

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