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Capt. Jeff Skiles Joins Selection Panel for Controller Awards Program - (9/29/2010)

CONTACT:  Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced today that Capt. Jeff Skiles has joined the selection committee of its Archie League Medal of Safety Awards program. Named for the first air traffic controller, the program honors the nation’s best examples of air traffic control skill and professionalism to ensure safe outcomes to challenging flight situations.

Skiles was the first officer who worked with Capt. Chesley Sullenberger in guiding US Airways Flight 1549 to a successful emergency landing on the Hudson River after a bird strike following takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15, 2009 knocked out both of the aircraft's engines. All 155 passengers survived.

“We are very honored and excited that Captain Skiles will be a part of our Archie League Medal of Safety Awards program,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “His presence will add that much more to an already special event – one that we are quite proud to have built into a showcase of air traffic control excellence for six years now.”

NATCA’s seventh annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards will be presented next March at its 2011 Communicating for Safety conference in Las Vegas, and will honor extraordinary flight assists that occurred this calendar year.

NATCA first met Capt. Skiles during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing that examined the Hudson River landing in February 2009. He was also NATCA’s guest at Communicating for Safety in March 2009, where NATCA presented each of the Flight 1549 crew members with a special award, along with its own members Patrick Harten (New York TRACON) and Bill McLoughlin (LaGuardia Tower) who worked to assist the crew from the ground.

“The able assistance of air traffic control to any aircraft in peril is absolutely critical to a successful and safe landing,” Skiles said. “I know that Patrick Harten was a major part of the success of US Airways Flight 1549. I'm looking forward to being a part of the Archie League selection committee and paying tribute to other deserving air traffic control honorees.”

Concluded Rinaldi: “Those of us in transportation labor have always believed that what occurred with Flight 1549 should be called ‘Professionalism on the Hudson,’ rather than, ‘Miracle on the Hudson.’ It was a wonderful example of professionalism and teamwork and gives Captain Skiles a unique perspective to judge the many examples of controller professionalism during flight assists that our Archie League program brings to light.”

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