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United Airlines says federal regulators will step up oversight of company following problems

CHICAGO– Federal regulators are increasing their oversight of United Airlines, the company announced Friday, following a series of recent problems, including the falling of a piece of a plane’s outer fuselage, an engine fire and the loss of aircraft. ‘a tire of a plane taking off.

United’s vice president of corporate security, Sasha Johnson, said the Federal Aviation Administration would review “multiple areas of our operations” to ensure security compliance.

“Over the coming weeks, we will begin to see a greater presence of the FAA in our operations as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities,” she said in a memo to the employees. “We appreciate their engagement and are very open to their feedback on what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.” »

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

The agency said it “routinely monitors all aspects of an airline’s operations” and did not outline any additional actions it would take in United’s case.

In a statement, an agency spokesperson said FAA oversight “focuses on an airline’s compliance with applicable regulations; ability to identify hazards, assess and mitigate risks; and effectively manage security.

Earlier this week, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told NBC News, “We’re going to look at each of these incidents and see if we see a pattern.” … Nobody likes to see this increase in incidents.”

Whitaker said he spoke with United CEO Scott Kirby about the events.

Elsewhere this week, Kirby tried to reassure customers about the airline’s safety, saying the recent problems were not related to each other.

Kirby said the airline was already planning an extra day of training for pilots starting in May and making changes to the training program for newly hired mechanics and would consider additional changes.

Among the most recent problems, a piece of aluminum outer skin was discovered to have fallen from the belly of a United Boeing 737 after it landed in Oregon. Earlier this month, a United plane suffered an engine fire while taking off from Houston and a tire fell off another United plane as it was leaving San Francisco.

Other problems included a hydraulic leak and a plane veering off a taxiway and getting stuck in the grass.

United is the nation’s second-largest airline by revenue, behind Delta Air Lines.

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