Federal regulators will increase oversight of United Airlines

Chicago. The company announced Friday that federal regulators will step up oversight of United Airlines after a series of recent problems, including a piece falling off a plane’s exterior, an engine fire and a tire failure during a flight.

Sasha Johnson, United’s vice president of corporate security, said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be investigating “many areas of our operations” to ensure compliance with safety standards.

“In the coming weeks, we will begin to see an increased FAA presence in our operations as they begin to review some of our work procedures, manuals and facilities,” he said in a note to employees. “We welcome their commitment and are very open to hearing from them about what they find and what their perspective is on things that we may need to change to make ourselves even safer.”

Johnson said the FAA would pause certification activities, but did not provide details.

The agency said it “regularly monitors all aspects of the airline’s operations” and did not describe any additional action it was taking in the United case.

In a statement, an agency spokesperson said FAA inspections “focus on the airline’s compliance with applicable regulations, its ability to identify hazards, assess and mitigate risks, and effectively manage safety.”

Earlier this week, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told NBC News: “We will look at each of these incidents and see if we see any patterns. …Nobody likes to see this increase in incidents.

Whittaker said he spoke to United CEO Scott Kirby about the incidents.

Separately, Kirby tried to reassure customers this week that the airline was safe, saying the recent problems were unrelated.

Kirby said the airline is already planning an additional day of training for pilots starting in May and a change in the training curriculum for newly hired mechanics and will consider additional changes.

Among the most recent problems, it was discovered that a piece of aluminum outer skin had separated from the belly of a United Boeing 737 after landing in Oregon. Earlier this month, an engine on a United plane caught fire while taking off from Houston, and a tire on another United plane blew out as it took off from San Francisco.

Other problems included hydraulic leaks and an aircraft that slid off the taxiway and became stuck in the grass.

United is the country’s second largest airline by revenue after Delta Air Lines.

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