Updated March 23rd, 2024 at 12:01 IST

United Airlines faces additional FAA scrutiny post recent safety incidents

The Chicago-headquartered carrier has encountered multiple emergencies recently, prompting this action

Reported by: Business Desk
United Airlines | Image:Pexels
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More vigilance: United Airlines is under heightened scrutiny from US safety regulators in response to a series of safety-related incidents, it has said.

Sasha Johnson, the airline's Vice President of Corporate Safety, informed employees through a memo on March 23 that they can expect a more pronounced presence from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the coming weeks. This increased vigilance will include reviews of the airline's work processes, manuals, and facilities.

The Chicago-headquartered carrier has encountered multiple emergencies recently, prompting this action. Notably, on March 15, an aircraft landed in Oregon missing an external panel, leading to an FAA probe. This incident follows a situation where a United-operated Boeing 737 MAX veered onto the grass at a Houston airport, and a Boeing 777-200 en route to Japan lost a tire after departing San Francisco, necessitating a safe diversion and landing in Los Angeles.

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Johnson's memo acknowledged these events as moments for reflection on the airline's safety practices, expressing openness to the FAA's findings and recommendations. "We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer," Johnson stated.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker confirmed to Reuters the agency's intention to closely monitor United Airlines following these incidents. He conveyed that United's CEO, Scott Kirby, is aware of the FAA's plans for enhanced engagement in assessing the airline's operations.

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The FAA, when asked about United's internal memo, put weight on its standard practice of overseeing airline operations. This includes ensuring compliance with regulations, hazard identification, risk assessment and mitigation, and effective safety management.

This scrutiny comes at a time when Boeing, the manufacturer of some aircraft involved in the United incidents, is also under investigation following a separate mid-air emergency involving an Alaska Airlines flight. 

Whitaker mentioned the heightened attention aviation incidents have been receiving, clarifying that while some events may not be out of the ordinary, the FAA's thorough investigations aim to detect any broader safety concerns within the aviation industry. 

He highlighted the importance of distinguishing crucial safety signals from less critical incidents, underscoring the resilience and redundancy built into the aviation safety system.

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Published March 23rd, 2024 at 12:01 IST