WSJ: “FAA Calls Out ‘Systemic’ Hazard at United”

Wall Street Journal published an article last week after having had an access to a FAA letter sent to the airline.

WSJ FAA Calls Out ‘Systemic’ Hazard at United

The regulatory authority is blaming the airline for lax pilot records and crew member qualifications.

You can access the WSJ article here of which below is an excerpt: (If the link doesn’t open up for you, just use Google search for the article and it will come up.)

The move by the FAA came amid broader pilot problems at United, including discontent among some of its unionized aviators. In the company’s internal safety warning in January, it said that personnel shifts affecting pilots—including retirements, new hires, and transfers to different aircraft types—“introduces significant risk to the operation.” That letter highlighted incidents including one in which pilots had to execute an emergency pull-up maneuver to avoid crashing into the ground and another in which a plane landed with less than the mandatory minimum fuel reserves.

United said the episodes raised questions about poor cockpit communication and coordination.

Several pilots knowledgeable about safety issues characterized the FAA’s February letter as “serious” and one said it was a “wake-up call” for United. They said the airline needs a better process to systematically minimize errors. “The company may be saying this is no big deal, but it’s serious,” said one of the pilots.

Union leaders of United’s 12,000 pilots, who are members of the Air Line Pilots Association union, in recent weeks have raised complaints with the Chicago-based company about issues including pay, training, scheduling, crew meals and alleging “pilot pushing,” or encouraging aviators to skirt existing contractual or FAA rules.


I cannot remember coming across such a stern warning from FAA to any US airline as long as I have been following them. The airline should take it seriously and fix the issues before something unfortunate happens.

Seems that the merger mess (a disaster really – extremely badly implemented) trying to combine United Airlines to much smaller Continental, while keeping the name of the much larger airline, is still not completed.