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Simple Flying
Safety-related tensions have risen in the United States in the past few months

In an attempt to simmer down tensions following a string of various safety incidents, United Airlines chief executive addressed the carrier’s customers, saying that the company has sharpened its focus on safety. To note, apart from turbulence-related injuries, no passengers or crew members suffered injuries during any of the airline's safety events in the past few weeks.


Addressing United Airlines flyers

Scott Kirby, the chief executive officer (CEO) of United Airlines, directly addressed the company’s customers in an email. Kirby opened his statement by saying that he was proud of the culture around the safety of its employees and travelers that United Airlines has built over the years.

The executive detailed that the airline’s employees are reviewing each case to understand what happened and, subsequently, inform its safety training and procedures across all employee groups. According to Kirby, this was another measure that the airline enacted in addition to the extra day of in-person training for all pilots starting in May, a centralized training curriculum for newly hired maintenance technicians, and others.


Boeing 737-800 losing a panel mid-flight

Kirby’s letter was published after a United Airlines Boeing 737-800, registered as N26226, lost a panel underneath the wing while operating flight UA433 between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Medford Rogue Valley International Airport (MFR) on March 15, 2024. While the missing panel was only discovered after the aircraft had landed at MFR, United Airlines confirmed that none of the 139 passengers or six crew members suffered any injuries during the 50-minute flight.

The 25-year-old Boeing 737-800 spent two days at MFR before the airline ferried the aircraft back to SFO using the flight code UA3851, presumably for further inspections. Flightradar24 schedules showed that the aircraft should return to service on March 18.


Safety tensions

The United States aviation system has experienced a lot of safety-related tension since an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 lost its mid-cabin door plug on January 5, leading to temporary grounding of the type. After the incident, stakeholders, including Alaska Airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and United Airlines, as well as others, began scrutinizing Boeing more closely as more and more issues with the manufacturer’s quality control processes surfaced publicly.

However, United Airlines has suffered a handful of incidents in the past few weeks, including a flaming engine failure of a Boeing 737-800, stuck rudder pedals on a Boeing 737 MAX 8, and a 737 MAX 8 runway incursion at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). During the latter incident, the aircraft ran off the runway after it had landed on flight UA2477 from Memphis International Airport (MEM).

Mar 20, 2024

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