Chesley Sullenberger became a hero for the second time today when he testified before Congress and strongly criticized airlines for putting profits ahead of safety.
Sullenberger, a 58-year-old who joined a US Airways predecessor in 1980, told the House aviation subcommittee that his pay has been cut 40 percent in recent years and his pension has been terminated and replaced with a promise “worth pennies on the dollar” from the federally created Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. These cuts followed a wave of airline bankruptcies after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks compounded by the current recession, he said. “The bankruptcies were used by some as a fishing expedition to get what they could not get in normal times,” Sullenberger said of the airlines. He said the problems began with the deregulation of the industry in the 1970s.
Sullenberger went to to say that inexperienced pilots willing to stay with the airlines for less money will result in “negative consequences for the flying public.” He now works “seven days a week at two jobs just to continue a middle-class lifestyle.”