CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who soared to fame as a national hero by landing a stricken US Airways jetliner in the Hudson River, is retiring at age 59, the airline said Wednesday.
Sullenberger had captained limited flights and was a member of the airline's flight operations safety management team since returning to duty in September after the Jan. 15, 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson" ditching, in which all 155 people aboard the plane survived.
In the past year, Sullenberger had become an outspoken advocate for tighter safety regulation in the industry.
"Each generation of pilots hopes that they will leave their profession better off than they found it," he said in a statement Wednesday. "In spite of the best efforts of thousands of my colleagues, that is not the case today.
"Though I am retiring, I will continue to serve as the same kind of advocate I have always been -- not only for aviation safety, but for the airline piloting profession.
I will work to remind the entire industry -- and those who manage and regulate it -- that we have a sacred duty to our passengers to do the very best that we know how to do."
US Airways had recently offered a round of early retirements associated with consolidation of some operations.
Also taking retirement is flight attendant Doreen Welsh, 59, who was in the rear of the jetliner when it ditched after hitting a flight of geese following takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
Both Sullenberger and Welsh are based out of the airline's Charlotte hub.
In January, Sullenberger, Welsh and the other three crew members of the Charlotte-bound flight attended a reunion with Flight 1549 passengers in New York.
Sullenberger is making a round of national appearances to promote his new book, "Highest Duty."