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Monday, July 8, 2024

United Airlines Pilots Reassure Safety Amid Reported Flight Issues

StoriesUnited Airlines Pilots Reassure Safety Amid Reported Flight Issues

Six United Airlines flights have experienced issues in a week. A few of them had to make emergency landings, while others had to turn back after taking off.

After departing SFO, two of the flights were rerouted to LAX. During takeoff, one plane experienced a hydraulic issue, while the other lost a wheel. In an employee parking area at SFO, one wheel totaled one car and damaged several more.

Pilot Scott Miller said, “That’s never a good look for anyone.”

Miller teaches aviation at San Jose State University and works as a pilot for a major airline. He stated that although United had a difficult week, it was probably a result of a combination of luck and increased awareness of airline mishaps.

“I don’t see a rise in the incidents that are occurring. What I’m seeing is increased interest in the incidents that are occurring,” he said.

Pilots, he explained, are trained to handle the unusual and unexpected.

“We spend 90% of our training time working on things that may only occur 1% of the time,” he stated. “Even though it appears United is having a bad week, in reality, everything is working at United Airlines because everyone is able to get back on the ground in one piece – unfortunately with a little bit of a disruption – but be able to carry on their trip.”

He acknowledged that the wheel incident and the mid-air engine fire are extremely uncommon occurrences.

“The thing that is even more striking to me than the actual incident itself is that these two rare incidents happened in such close proximity of time,” he stated.

Miller thinks the recent surge in interest and scrutiny in airline operations was caused by the spectacular Alaska Airlines event, in which a panel referred to as a “door plug” blew off a flight off of Portland, OR, at 16,000. But he believes the true attention began to grow back in 2018 following the first of two fatal Boeing Max crashes.

“I’m not surprised there is increased scrutiny in airline operations right now,” he stated.

This past week, problems were encountered by several airlines besides United. In Miami, the tail of a parked Frontier jet was clipped by an American Airlines aircraft.

Miller stated that safety precautions have risen in recent years and he thinks that trend will continue in the future, even the tumultuous week.

“Because of the changes that have been made in safety tracking and the safety management systems over the last 20 years in the United States, we’ve enjoyed the longest stretch of airline safety in the history of this country,” he stated. “I see that trend continuing even in light of these instances. In the upcoming years, airplane travel will become even safer as we develop such programs.”

According to United, each incident it handled was “distinct and unrelated to one another.”

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