United Airlines CEO addresses string of incidents, tells passengers carrier is safe

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    United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby reassured flyers in a letter this week that the carrier is looking into the string of incidents that have recently involved its planes, from engine and structural issues to a wheel falling off during takeoff. 

    At least six unrelated incidents have occurred on planes operated by United since the end of February. Five of them involved a Boeing plane.

    “Safety is our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do,” Kirby said in a letter sent to United customers. “Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety.”

    United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby speaks to reporters after a joint press event with Boeing at the Boeing manufacturing facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Dec. 13, 2022. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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    While the incidents were all unrelated, they “have our attention and have sharpened our focus,” Kirby said in the letter.

    Safety Concerns

    Last week, a Boeing 777 was forced to turn around midflight after leaving Sydney due to a hydraulic leak.

    A few days earlier, an Airbus A320, en route to Mexico City, was forced to make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport after a reported hydraulics issue.

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    Shortly before that, a Boeing 737 “rolled onto the grass” at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston after landing, and a Boeing 777-200 aircraft bound for Japan lost a tire shortly after taking off in San Fransisco.

    Earlier this month, a flight from Houston to Fort Myers, Florida, made an emergency landing after experiencing an engine issue. A video showed flames spewing out of one of the plane’s engines as a crew member acknowledged the situation.

    United Airlines airplanes

    United Airlines airplanes proceed to a runway at Newark Liberty International Airport in front of the skyline of midtown Manhattan and the Empire State Building in New York City on Jan. 27, 2024, in Newark, New Jersey. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images / Getty Images)

    In February, a Boeing 757 operated by United diverted to address an issue with the slat on the wing of the aircraft. A passenger reported seeing the wing “coming apart” and missing noticeable chunks during the flight.

    FOX Business reached out to Boeing and Airbus for comment.

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    Kirby said United is currently in the process of reviewing the details of each incident to better understand what happened. The airline is using those insights to “inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups,” he continued.

    The company already planned to give pilots an extra day of in-person training starting in May, according to Kirby. United has also already created a centralized training curriculum for new-hire maintenance technicians.

    Ticker Security Last Change Change %
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    “We’re also dedicating more resources to supplier network management,” Kirby added.

    The chief executive said he is empowering the company’s team to “speak up” if they see something wrong. Still, he said that passengers can still “be confident that every time a United plane pulls away from the gate, everyone on our team is working together to keep you safe on your trip.”

    FOX Business’ Lawerence Richard and Greg Norman contributed to this report. 

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