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Captain Sully retires, but continues as air safety advocate

"Miracle on the Hudson" hero, Captain Sully Sullenberger, made his last flight as a U.S. Airways pilot yesterday. He's retiring from the airline after 30 years. Sullenberger safely landed flight 1549 on the Hudson River last year after a flock of geese collided with the plane's engines. He's retiring with little praise for the industry to which he devoted his career. Sullenberger said each generation of pilots hopes to leave the profession better off than they found it. But he added that's not the case today as airlines struggle with tight budgets. "The decision makers are too far removed from the consequences of their decisions and sometimes administrative decisions or budget decisions have possible safety implications," said Sullenberger. "So one of the things I advocate is that we teach our executives safety consciousness." Sullenberger said that includes getting air carriers and regulators to look at ways to mitigate pilot fatigue, make informed decisions about outsourcing maintenance to foreign countries, and train pilots more thoroughly. Sullenberger stood next to Jeff Skiles, his co-pilot on flight 1549 as he spoke with reporters after his last trip. He used him to point out how pilot training has changed. "When Jeff Skiles was hired as a regional pilot he had 3,000 hours of flight experience and he had flown as a captain before," said Sullenberger. "That's the difference we're talking about now." A month after the two guided the passengers on flight 1549 to safety, a Continental Connector Flight crashed near Buffalo killing 50 people. That pilot had never received hands-on training for a safety system that kicked in shortly before the crash. About half a dozen passengers on the same flight that thrust Sullenberger into the national spotlight last year accompanied him on his last trip from Fort Lauderdale to Charlotte.