United Airlines and Boeing under increased scrutiny after safety incidents

FAA intensifies oversight of United Airlines and Boeing after safety incidents, including a fuselage blowout and mechanical mishaps.

By Jack Wilson

3/22, 17:56 EDT
Boeing Company
United Airlines Holdings, Inc.

Key Takeaway

  • FAA increases oversight of United Airlines after a series of safety incidents, including an aircraft veering off in Houston and another losing a tire post-departure from San Francisco.
  • United CEO Scott Kirby announces enhanced safety measures, including additional pilot training starting in May and a centralized curriculum for maintenance technicians.
  • Boeing Co. also under examination following a fuselage blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight, with increased scrutiny from the U.S. Transportation Secretary and the Justice Department.

Increased Scrutiny on Airline Safety

Recent incidents involving United Airlines flights have prompted heightened attention from both the airline and U.S. air safety regulators. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby reached out to customers, emphasizing the company's commitment to safety and the unrelated nature of the mishaps. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to review United's processes, manuals, and facilities, as stated by Sasha Johnson, United’s vice president of corporate safety. This comes after a series of mishaps, including an aircraft veering off the taxiway in Houston and another losing a tire after departure from San Francisco. The FAA is investigating nine incidents this month related to United planes, with some involving potential mechanical issues.

United's Response to Incidents

In response to the recent incidents, United Airlines has announced several measures aimed at enhancing safety protocols and training. CEO Scott Kirby assured passengers that the airline is conducting a thorough review of the mishaps to improve safety training and procedures across the company. Planned changes include an additional day of in-person training for pilots starting in May and a centralized curriculum for new maintenance technicians. Kirby also mentioned dedicating more resources to supplier network management as part of the airline's efforts to bolster safety.

Boeing Under Examination

The FAA's scrutiny extends beyond United Airlines to Boeing Co., following a fuselage blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight in January. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighted the rigorous assessment Boeing will face to ensure airline safety. The incident has led to a criminal investigation by the Justice Department and increased regulatory and public scrutiny of Boeing. The company has also faced challenges in locating records of the work performed on the door panel that failed, underscoring the importance of documentation in the aviation industry.

Management Quotes

  • Scott Kirby, CEO of United:

    "Reached out to customers earlier this week to reassure them that the mishaps, while unrelated, are receiving high-level attention."