Sully cleared for final approach

Chesley B. Sullenberger III, has retired after 30 years of flying planes and one historical day of landing one.

In Sully’s honor, raise a toast with a glass of Grey Goose vodka!

And if you get too much Grey Goose, it’s ok, it’s safe to crash at Sully’s!

“I don’t know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps”

“My pay has been cut 40%. My pension, like most airline pensions, has been terminated.”

Both quotes from Capt. Sully. I think there is some legitimate bitterness there at what a shitty job being a pilot has become.

Can they really just terminate pensions, like that? You pay in all those years, and then they just cancel it right before you retire? Something sounds hinky to me, about this.

Be that as it may, still a lot more pilots, than jobs as pilots available, it seems. Market forces and all that.

There have been a lot of airline cutbacks in recent years, haven’t there? That would leave more of them looking for work.

Here is a second article that discusses the pension and some of his other problems with the state of the industry. Here’s a fuller quote:

I thought the title meant he had died. Made me sad for a second.

While I think Sully seems like a true humble hero indeed, is anyone else a bit shocked that he didn’t put enough aside (notwithstanding his pension snafu, which I suppose he had no way of foreseeing) to not have to work “seven days a week” to survive?

I imagine he was making at least $200,000 per year for many years—There are plenty of people that never came close to that who dont work 7 days per week when they retire.

What am I missing?

ETA—With his new reputation as a hero, I am sure he could parlay that into some lucrative endorsements or a new job somewhere, right?

I am just a bit suprised that things could be so bleak for Capt. Sullinberger so soon after his retirement as a national hero.

Y’know, I over looked that, because I’m stunned to discover that there is a “federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation” which, apparently does everything but guarantee federal pension benefits! What the hell?

Unless I’m mistaken pension plans have to be heavily insured and underwritten where I live. Why is it not illegal to take away people’s pensions, which they have paid into for 20+ yrs and give them only pennies on the dollar. I’m gobsmacked. How is that not a crime?

I was under the same impression.

I don’t know the full answer, but pension accounts are funded by employer contributions, not employee contributions. I would assume this has something to do with it.

Employees contribute their own money to 401k plans (unlike Pension). Regardless of what happens to their employer (i.e. bankruptcy) they can get their own contributions from 401k plans.

I bet some Fortune 500 company will see that and hire him to fly the Lear. Maybe Jetshare is hiring?

Pensions are usually protected during bankruptcy, as I understand it.

Those days are long, *long *gone, along with job security of any kind other than luck.

And considering that USAirways may have tended to be at the lower end of the majors (basically it was an accretion of small or niche airlines: Allegheny, Piedmont, PSA, Trump Shuttle) even before AWA bought them out, and Sully was mostly a 737 and A320 domestic-run jockey, it’s entirely plausible he may have never got anywhere even within sight of $200K/yr to begin with. A Google search gives me senior captain (12+ years at grade) salaries currently in the range of 130K-190K with US near the bottom.

In any case it so happens Sully *DID *take action to invest his earnings and provide for income upon retirement. He started an independent safety consulting business, and he put his money in commercial real estate: alas the latter meant the general economic downturn had him on the loss side. That statement about working 7 days, as I understand it, was not that he’d be working 7 days in his retirement; but rather ISTM he was saying that precisely because of the pay cut and the loss of pension benefits, in order to rebuild his financial security he was having to accept as much flight assignment as regulations allow plus manage the properties plus the safety consulting. Man was doing everything he had to do and working hard, just to stop falling further behind.
Of course, now the safety consultant gig is probably going to be in high demand, and between that, speaker fees, and book royalties, those geese may have just solved his retirement issues. :stuck_out_tongue:
Pensions are not untouchable. USelessAir was coming out of (its first) bankruptcy when it handed over its pension plan to PBGC but IIRC it was not done as a bankruptcy walkaway per se but as a “distress termination”, where the employer reports that the pension plan has become unable to meet obligations and to try to bring it back to solvency would break the company for good. In such a case, the PBGC does NOT guarantee full value of the pensions, but rather provides a “safety net” payout that is capped and prorrated by various factors including years of employment and age and how much can they recover from the distressed employer. Since at the time the airline was operating with a stabilization loan from the post-9/11 airline bailout, I venture a guess that the powers that be must have felt that cashing out the pension plan at a fraction of nominal value was worth it so the company itself would stick around to pay back the taxpayers and keep the remaining employees employed.

As an aside: It may sound like an arcadian legend of dotty old former UAW/UPW members to many of us now, but the “guaranteed” defined-benefit employer-funded pension was once considered a great achievement of labor in the modern age, because for many workers it meant not having to take individual investment risks with a substantial part of their earnings to secure a basic fixed-income retirement, lest Wall Street throw a conniption or the guy you invested with runs off to Nicaragua, and the fruits of your hard work and delayed gratification evaporate into the aether. Alas, latter-day market realities meant that the achievement had to be surrendered since many defined-benefit plans became unsustainable. Even the US government stopped offering defined-benefit pensions to new civilian employees.