El piloto Chesley «Sully» Sullenberger, responsable del espectacular amerizaje de un Airbus A320 sobre el río Hudson frente a las costas de New York,a punto de cumplir 60 años, anunció su retiro, después de haber trabajado para US Airways durante los últimos treinta años.

«He tenido la suerte de haber seguido mi pasión durante la mayor parte de mi vida, trabajando en una profesión que amo profundamente y junto a miles de maravillosos colegas», aseguró en un comunicado el piloto de 59 años, conocido como «Sully».

Entre esos colegas de profesión, Sullenberger se refirió expresamente al hombre con el que realizó su último vuelo, Jeff Skiles, quien ha sido su copiloto durante años y también volaba con él el 15 de enero de 2009, cuando iniciaron el frustrado vuelo 1549 que partió del aeropuerto neoyorquino de La Guardia y terminó sobre el Hudson.

El piloto consiguió posar a salvo sobre las heladas aguas de ese río el Airbus A320 que dirigía, con 155 pasajeros a bordo, después de que una bandada de gansos colisionara con el aparato poco después de despegar del aeropuerto neoyorquino y anulara sus motores.

Después de aquel incidente la vida profesional de Sullenberger se vio interrumpida durante unos meses, en los que incluso le dio tiempo a escribir un libro, hasta que en septiembre se incorporó al equipo de gestión de riesgos de la aerolínea y en octubre volvió a pilotear.

«Todas las generaciones de pilotos esperan dejar la profesión mejor que como la encontraron. Pese a los mayores esfuerzos de miles de mis colegas, hoy en día éste no es el caso», lamentó Sullenberger, quien se comprometió a seguir trabajando para mejorar la seguridad aérea y la situación profesional de los pilotos.

US Airways también comunicó el retiro de Doreen Welsh, una de las azafatas que volaba en el vuelo accidentado y que ayudó a evacuar a los pasajeros.

Al darse a conocer la noticia, el Presidente y Consejero Delegado de US Airways, Doug Parker, expresó en un comunicado su «gran orgullo» por la «rapidez y coraje» con los que ambos respondieron el día del amerizaje y aseguró que los dos son un ejemplo de la «profesionalidad» de los más de diez mil pilotos y asistentes de vuelo de la compañía.

«Sully siempre ha sido un piloto de pilotos y un claro ejemplo de aviador profesional. Además, ha realizado un gran trabajo al atraer la atención pública estadounidense sobre la necesidad de contar con pilotos al mando de aviones comerciales bien formados y con experiencia», aseguró en otro comunicado el presidente de la Asociación de Pilotos de US Airlines, Mike Cleary.

Por ello, reclamó que el poder legislativo estadounidense, las aerolíneas y los clientes «exijan que la próxima generación de expertos aviadores tengan incentivos para realizar el duro trabajo de reemplazar a Sully y a muchos otros que están cerca de su jubilación, y no continuar con el deslustre de esta profesión, otrora motivo de orgullo».

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