‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Captain Sully Defends Ryanair Pilots

Sep 25, 2017

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Ryanair pilots now have the support of one of the most famous names among their own, Chesley Sullenberger, or Sully. The retired US Airways captain who’s known for his “Miracle on the Hudson” landing in New York City spoke out in favor of Ryanair pilots, defending them and criticizing how the company’s CEO Michael O’Leary handled a pilot-vacation snafu that made headlines around the world.

Earlier this month, Ryanair announced that it would be cancelling flights every day for six weeks as the result of poor planning when it came to pilot vacation time. In all, the airline canceled more than 2,300 flights. Following the cancellations, O’Leary drew criticism for his claim that pilots have “a very easy job” and that computers do most of the flying.

Sully, who saved all 150 lives on board when he landed a crippled A320 with no engines in the Hudson River, disagreed. He told The Sunday Business Post that “airline executives should never forget that while pilots make flying incredibly safe and routine, it is not easy.”

“They should remember that when we go flying in an airliner, what we are really doing is pushing a tube filled with people through the upper atmosphere, seven or eight miles above the Earth, at 80 percent of the speed of sound, in a hostile environment with outside air pressure one quarter than at the surface and outside temperatures to minus 70 degrees, and we must return it safely to the Earth every time.”

Following Sully’s comments, Ryanair’s Head of Communications Robin Kelly said, “Our position regarding pilots was fully outlined at the AGM [shareholders’ meeting] and the media briefing yesterday.”

Rynair shares fell 1 percent on Monday on the London Stock Exchange, but they are up for the year.

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Featured image by Earl Gibson III / Getty Images.

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