ALPA Vows to Fight Efforts to Remove Pilots from Flight Deck on Anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson”

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) celebrates the heroic actions taken by the crew aboard US Airways Flight 1549 and vows to use its influence to ensure that at least two fully qualified, highly trained, and well-rested pilots are on the flight deck to serve as an airliner’s strongest safety asset. On January 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and F/O Jeffrey Skiles, working together under extraordinary circumstances, saved the lives of the 155 passengers and crew as the world watched.

“When faced with the life-or-death challenge of losing both engines 3,000 feet above the Hudson River, Capt. Sullenberger and F/O Skiles worked together to save the lives of all those aboard Flight 1549,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA president. “Two highly qualified and fully experienced professional pilots are the foundation upon which our aviation system is built. On that fateful day 14 years ago, it required the combination of every bit of expertise and experience that both Capt. Sullenberger and F/O Skiles earned in their years as airline pilots to perform the controlled emergency landing into the Hudson as safely as they did. There is no automated or remotely operated replacement for the collaboration, communication, and airplane feel made possible by having at least two pilots on the flight deck. To be crystal clear: The presence of two pilots on the flight deck saved lives that cold January afternoon in 2009.”

Despite the Flight 1549 experience—and all that was learned from the investigations into it—efforts are underway in the industry to prioritize profits over safety and reduce the number of pilots on the flight deck. ALPA continues to fight back against these efforts, and plans to step up its campaign to underscore the importance of having at least two pilots on the flight deck, working together, just as Capt. Sullenberger and F/O Skiles did 14 years ago, to ensure the safety and security of passengers and cargo every day and night.

“This is a critical year as Congress begins work on the next FAA reauthorization. ALPA will remain resolute in opposing any efforts to weaken the safest aviation system in the world, including any attempt to reduce the number of crewmembers on the flight deck. While money may talk in Washington, the safety of the flying public and our flight crews is not for sale,” added Ambrosi.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 67,000 pilots at 39 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit or follow us on Twitter @ALPAPilots.