FAA May Restrict United Airlines Operations

United Airlines logo | Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Federal aviation officials are considering measures that could hamper the growth of United Airlines following the carrier’s recent safety mishaps.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering whether the Chicago-based carrier should be restricted from adding new routes ahead of the busy summer travel season, Bloomberg reported.

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

A series of safety incidents onboard United Airlines flights came in quick succession recently, including an engine fire, a wheel falling off, multiple hydraulic leaks, and more, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby in a recent letter to customers.

“Our team is reviewing the details of each case to understand what happened and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups,” he added.

Despite numerous high-profile mishaps across the industry, the commercial aviation industry suffered 30 total accidents in 2023. This marks a slight improvement from 42 accidents in 2022, according to the latest report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association for airlines. Overall, there was an average of one accident for every 880,293 flights in 2023.

Many of 2024’s mishaps have involved United planes, but not all. Back in January, a door plug blew off an Alaskan Airlines 737 Max 9, marking another safety mishap onboard a Boeing-manufactured aircraft.

The incidents with Boeing aircraft have raised concerns about the manufacturer and accusations that the company is taking shortcuts during the manufacturing process, prioritizing speed and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives over production quality and safety, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

While most aviation accidents are avoidable, “not all of them were preventable from United’s perspective,” according to Mark Millam, director of technical programs at the Flight Safety Foundation.

“These incidents aren’t enough to come to some determination on one airline’s performance versus another’s. There are not any clear signals that United has any different performance than another airline,” said Millam in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch.

FAA administrator Michael Whitaker said he had spoken to Kirby about the string of safety incidents and the need for review.

“I know that they’re taking some heightened measures and looking at these issues,” Whitaker said in an interview with NBC News. “We’re going to look at each one of these incidents and see if we see a pattern. …He’s concerned, I’m concerned, no one likes to see this spike of incidents. So we’re both doing our jobs to look at where those risks might be at.”

The Dallas Express contacted the FAA about the potential restrictions on United but did not receive a response by the publication deadline.

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