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United Airlines says FAA review places restrictions on flying new aircraft

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United Airlines says FAA review places restrictions on flying new aircraft
April 17, 2024
Rajesh Kumar Singh - Reuters

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

CHICAGO (Reuters) - United Airlines on Wednesday said it has been prevented from putting new aircraft into service due to an ongoing review of its operations by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The review was ordered following several safety emergencies involving the Chicago-based airline in recent weeks.

A small number of aircraft previously scheduled to enter into service in the current quarter will be pushed into the quarter through September, the company said. The change is expected to have a minimal impact to its growth plans for this year, it added.

United has delayed the start of two new international routes, citing a pause in some certification activities by the FAA. It also postponed its investor day, which was scheduled for early next month, due to the review.

The FAA has said the formal evaluation is aimed at ensuring the airline's compliance with safety regulations, identifying hazards and mitigating risk, and effectively managing safety.

United told its employees last month they would see more of an FAA presence in its operations over the next several weeks as part of the agency's review of the carrier's "work processes, manuals and facilities."

On a call to discuss company results on Wednesday, United CEO Scott Kirby declined to predict when the review would conclude. He said the review does not stop the airline from promoting pilots to captain.

"The main focus has been less about changing the policies and processes," he said, "but really making sure that everyone keeps safety as a top of mind awareness."

Last month, an external panel was missing from a United aircraft when it landed in Oregon. Before that incident, a United Airlines-operated Boeing 737 MAX rolled onto the grass in Houston.

A United-operated Boeing 777-200 bound for Japan also lost a tire after takeoff from San Francisco and was diverted to Los Angeles, where it landed safely.

"Through the FAA review, I'm confident that we'll uncover opportunities to make our airline even safer," Kirby said.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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