The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has signaled it will increase oversight of United Airlines following a spike in safety incidents in recent weeks.

“Due to recent safety events, the FAA is increasing oversight of United Airlines to ensure that it is complying with safety regulations; identifying hazards and mitigating risk; and effectively managing safety,” a spokesperson for the FAA said.

The FAA also announced that certification processes may also be delayed based on results from the increase in oversight.

“Certification activities in process may be allowed to continue, but future projects may be delayed based on findings from oversight,” the FAA said.

While the FAA did not specify what processes may be delayed it has been reported that United could be prevented from adding new routes.

In a message to United Airlines staff on March 22, 2024, vice president of corporate safety at the airline, Sasha Johnson, advised employees of the FAA’s decision.

“We will begin to see more of an FAA presence in our operation as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities. 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 said according to the New York Times.

The FAA said that it “routinely” monitored airlines’ operations in the interest of safety.

In a message to United Airlines customers on March 18, 2024, CEO Scott Kirby said that the incidents “have our attention and have sharpened our focus”.

Among the most high-profile safety incidents in recent weeks was a Boeing 777-200 that lost a tire shortly after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on March 7, 2024, and a Boeing 737 MAX 8 that veered off the runway at Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) on March 8, 2024.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also published a preliminary report into an incident involving “stuck” rudders on a United Boeing 737 MAX 8.

The 737-8 landed at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on February 6, 2024, when the captain reported that during the landing rollout, the rudder pedals failed to move in response to the “normal” application.

“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety. While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus,” Kirby wrote in the message to customers.

Other United Airlines incidents in 2024:

  • United Airlines Boeing 737-800 lands in Oregon with missing fuselage panel
  • United Airlines B777-300 bound for SFO returns to Sydney after mechanical issues
  • United Airlines pilot diverts Boeing 737 as flames burst from engine
  • United A321neo fleet grounded due to issue over passenger ‘No Smoking’ signs
  • United Airlines B737-800 flight diverted after crack in windshield found
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