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NTSB's Chealander resigns

The federal safety commissioner who traveled to Buffalo in wake of the crash of Flight 3407 plans to leave the agency at the end of next week.

Steven R. Chealander, the National Transportation Safety Board member who spoke for the agency following the crash, announced his resignation in a letter to President Obama.

"I wish you and your administration well as you lead America through the challenges facing this great nation of ours," Chealander wrote. "It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life to work with the professional career employees of the NTSB, not to mention the four other dedicated presidential appointees that constitute the board."

Chealander, 62, has accepted a position with Airbus Americas as vice president for technical training, the safety board said. He had served on the safety board since Jan. 3, 2007.

Presidential appointees such as Chealander -- who was appointed by former President George W. Bush -- frequently resign shortly after a new president takes office. Bush had nominated him to continue serving on the board, but the Senate did not confirm him before Obama and new members of Congress took office.

Before serving on the board, Chealander was a captain for American Airlines and a fighter pilot in the Air Force, where he was a member of the famed Air Force Thunderbirds.

While serving in the Air Force, from early 1986 until January 1989, Chealander carried the so-called "nuclear football" -- which contains the codes the president needs to launch nuclear weapons -- for then-President Ronald Reagan.

e-mail: jzremski@buffnews.com

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