United Airlines CEO vows review of recent safety incidents

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 7:07 AM

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

CHICAGO (Reuters) – United Airlines is reviewing recent safety incidents in which it has been involved and using the insights to update safety training and procedures for employees, CEO Scott Kirby said on Monday.

The Chicago-based airline has experienced several safety emergencies in the past two weeks. Last Friday, an external panel was found to missing from a United aircraft when it landed in Oregon, prompting an investigation by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

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.

In a message to United’s customers, Kirby expressed confidence that the airline would learn the “right lessons” and “continue to run an operation that puts safety first.”

“While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus,” he said.

Kirby said United plans to have an extra day of in-person training for all pilots starting in May, and a centralized training curriculum for new-hire maintenance technicians.

The airline is dedicating more resources to supplier network management and encouraging employees to flag safety-related issues, he said.

“Safety is our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do,” Kirby said.

In the aftermath of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 mid-air emergency prompted by a door plug blowout, U.S. aviation incidents are getting more attention.

Boeing has been under heavy regulatory scrutiny after the Jan. 5 Alaska Airlines incident, with inquiries into the company’s safety and quality standards in its production process.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh. Editing by Gerry Doyle)