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Flight 1549 Crew, Air Traffic Controller Testify at Congress

The Flight 1549 crew received a standing ovation before they testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The crew members, Captain Chesley B Sullenberger III, First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, flight attendant Sheila Dail, flight attendant Donna Dent, flight attendant Doreen Welsh, appeared before the committee alongside LaGuardia air traffic controller Patrick Harten, who gave his first statement about the flight that eventually splash-landed into the Hudson River with everyonen surviving.

Harten said, "It was the lowest low I had ever felt...While I have worked 10 or 12 emergencies over the course of my career, I have never worked an aircraft with zero thrust capabilities. I understood how grave this situation was." And when Sullenberger told him he was going to land in the Hudson, "I asked him to repeat himself, even though I heard him just fine. I simply could not wrap my mind around those words. People don't survive landings on the Hudson River; I thought it was his own death sentence. I believed at that moment, I was going to be the last person to talk to anyone on that plane alive."

Sullenberger spoke out against cost-cutting in the airline industry, “I am worried that the airline-piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers” elsewhere. He added that his salary was reduced 40%—prompting him to start his consulting business—and that his pension was eliminated and said airline companies "have used airline employees as an ATM."

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