The U.S. Senate has confirmed C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger to be the U.S. representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ air-safety body.
The 70-year-old Sullenberger, who rose to fame as a commercial pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River after an in-flight emergency in 2009, said earlier this year that Belarus should be temporarily barred from voting at the ICAO because of its diversion of a Ryanair flight in May.
“More action needs to be taken,” Sullenberger told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 29 during his nomination hearing.
He noted that under certain conditions the ICAO can temporarily remove the voting rights of a state for violating international norms.
“We should be pulling every lever necessary to hold accountable those responsible for this act,” Sullenberger said.
Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were detained when Belarus scrambled a military jet to escort the Athens-to-Vilnius flight which they were on to land in Minsk because of a bomb threat that proved to be false.
Sullenberger said the arrest of Pratasevich “showed flagrant disregard for international norms of aviation security and safety.” He said the ICAO “must ensure that those standards are upheld” and he vowed to push for a full chronology of what happened.
The ICAO said on November 9 that an investigative report on the incident will not be released until its next session in January.
Pratasevich and Sapega are currently under house arrest. Pratasevich faces charges of being behind protests that followed a disputed presidential election in August 2020, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charges against Sapega are less clear.