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‘Miracle on the Hudson’ pilot coming to Buffalo

WASHINGTON – Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who steered his crippled USAirways jet to a safe water landing dubbed “the Miracle on the Hudson” six years ago, will travel to Western New York next week to support the Families of Continental Flight 3407 in their continuing fight for aviation safety improvements.

Sullenberger will appear at an event at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Flight 3407 Memorial on Long Street in Clarence, where the doomed plane crashed because of pilot error on Feb. 12, 2009, claiming 50 lives.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who helped arrange Sullenberger’s appearance, will also appear at the event.

About a month before the Flight 3407 crash, Sullenberger piloted USAirways Flight 1549 to a safe landing in the Hudson River in New York despite a bird strike that disabled the aircraft. All 155 people on board survived.

“Six years ago, we had both a triumph and a tragedy for aviation safety in this country,” said Karen Eckert, one of the leading members of the Flight 3407 families group who also worked to arrange the event. “Sully Sullenberger represents everything that’s right about the aviation industry: safety, being prepared, dedication and leadership. He is the ultimate spokesman to endorse the safety improvements that the families fought for and, with the aid of Senator Schumer and Congress, were able to pass.”

Sullenberger’s local appearance comes as Congress begins work on reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and its programs. That effort could include a review of the wide-ranging pilot training, experience and rest requirements implemented as a result of 2010 legislation that Congress passed under pressure from the Flight 3407 families.

Later next week, about 30 members of the families group plan to travel to Washington to meet with key members of the new Congress to press for continuing safety improvements.

Schumer’s office confirmed that senator’s appearance at Monday’s event, which Jennifer West, another member of the Flight 3407 families group, announced on Facebook.