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FAA lifts United Airlines restrictions on new planes and routes

In recent weeks, United Airlines has faced increased scrutiny from regulators, limiting the carrier’s ability to add new routes and planes. There is now a positive update for United.

United Airlines now faces fewer regulatory restrictions

In late March 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would increase oversight of United Airlines. The carrier experienced numerous security incidents in the weeks leading up to this. This not only attracted a lot of media attention, but also prompted regulators to take notice.

As a result, the FAA has increased oversight of United, with the goal of ensuring that the airline complies with safety regulations, identifies hazards, mitigates risks and effectively manages safety. For United, the practical implications were that, during this investigation, the airline was limited in terms of its ability to launch new routes and take delivery of new aircraft.

There is now a positive update, as United has received the green light to remove many restrictions in place, including regarding certification activities (such as the delivery of new aircraft and the launch of new routes).

This doesn’t mean that the FAA’s increased oversight of United is completely over, but rather simply that United won’t be as limited in terms of what it can do.

Some restrictions facing United are lifted

You have to wonder what was going on at United

When the FAA announced increased surveillance of United, I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one hand, United has seen an increase in the number of incidents in a short period of time. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that anything in the carrier’s safety culture changed overnight.

In many ways, it seemed that the FAA was partly conducting this investigation for optics. After all, the airline industry isn’t exactly popular with consumers, and with the Boeing 737 MAX incident earlier this year, the FAA wants to appear proactive.

But I still don’t know what to think beyond that. Did United simply have a series of incidents that were an unfortunate coincidence, or what suddenly changed at United that made the airline less safe? There are a few potential factors I can think of, but none completely explain the sudden increase in incidents:

  • United has the oldest fleet of the “big three” US carriers, and while older planes are absolutely safe, it’s also not uncommon for them to suffer more incidents over time; for example, you will find many more stories involving 767s than 787s.
  • The industry as a whole definitely has a “junior” problem, where you have a lot more pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, etc. juniors than before the pandemic, and there is no denying that lack of experience eliminates a safety cushion (although this is true for the entire sector, not just United)
  • United has grown faster than American and Delta over the past two years, and one has to wonder if that has contributed to cutting corners.

Even as U.S. airlines continue to operate safely in terms of people arriving at their destinations unscathed, there is no denying that the U.S. airline industry’s safety cushion has diminished since the pandemic.

We have seen an increase in near misses across the industry. It also cannot be understated how much more junior the workforce is. In some cases, you now have wide-body captains on US airlines in their 20s, with only a few years of airline experience. At the time, it took more than 20 years of experience to get there. Experience counts, and at the moment the industry is lacking experience.

Has anything changed in United’s safety culture?


The Federal Aviation Administration is easing some restrictions that United Airlines has been under as the airline faces increased regulatory scrutiny. This came as United has seen an increase in security incidents in recent months.

This update is positive news for United, in terms of its ability to take delivery of new aircraft and launch new routes.

What do you think about the FAA lifting some restrictions on United?

News Source : onemileatatime.com
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