FAA to increase oversight of United Airlines after recent issues

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is increasing its oversight of United Airlines in the wake of recent incidents, including a plane losing a tire during takeoff, the airline said Friday.

Sasha Johnson, United’s vice president of corporate safety, told employees in a memo that the “number of safety-related events in recent weeks have rightfully caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we can and should do differently.”

“Over the next several weeks, we will begin to see more of an FAA presence in our operation as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities,” Johnson said in the memo. “We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.”

She added that the FAA will pause certification activities, but gave no further details, per the memo.

The FAA said it is routine for the agency’s safety assurance system to monitor “all aspects” of an airline’s operations, especially after issues arise.

“It focuses on an airline’s compliance with applicable regulations; ability to identify hazards, assess and mitigate risk; and effectively manage safety,” the FAA said in an emailed statement to The Hill.

The agency also pointed to comments made by FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker in a recent interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt on “NBC Nightly News” on the United incidents in which he said the agency is “gonna look at each one of these incidents and see if we see a pattern.”

The increase in FAA oversight of United also comes after months of scrutiny surrounding Boeing, the manufacturer of the jet that lost its tire earlier this month during a takeoff from San Francisco International Airport. The company came into the spotlight earlier this year after one of its 737 Max 9 planes experienced a mid-air blowout, losing part of its door panel, on an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

Passengers who were on the flight, which sparked several federal investigations and lawsuits, have now received a letter from the FBI saying they may be considered crime victims.

“As a Victim Specialist with the Seattle Division, I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime,” the letter, dated Tuesday, reads.

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