National News

Sullenberger returns to cockpit, Charlotte

Posted September 30, 2009 10:43 a.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2009 3:59 p.m. EDT

The airline captain who glided his US Airways jet safely into New York's Hudson River is ready to  return to the cockpit, US Airways announced.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles will return to duty together Thursday on  US Airways Flight 1427 from LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, arriving in the late afternoon.

Sullenberger, 58, has finished the training required to return to the cockpit and is eligible to fly, said US Airways Group Inc. spokesman Jonathan Freed. The requirements for returning to the cockpit include ground school, simulator training, and flying with a captain from the training department, he said.

Sullenberger will pilot regular flights as well as joining the airline's flight operations safety management team.

On Jan. 15 Sullenberger ditched the Airbus A320 in the Hudson after a collision with a flock of geese killed power in both engines minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia airport. All 155 people on the plane survived.

In a statement released by the airline, Sullenberger said the months since the Jan. 15 incident have been full, "and my family and I have had some unforgettable experiences. However, I have missed working with my colleagues at US Airways and I am eager to get back in the cockpit with my fellow pilots in the months ahead."

Sullenberger wrote about the landing in "Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters," with co-author Jeffrey Zaslow. The book is due out next month.

Sullenberger and Skiles have been lauded for their textbook response to the loss of power. Their plane was at just 2,800 feet, giving them just three and a half minutes to try to restart the engines or find an airport for a landing. He told the National Transportation Safety Board in June that he glided into the Hudson near Manhattan's ferry terminals to increase the chances of a rescue.