FAA proposes $1.1m fine for United over missed security checks

  • The FAA on Monday proposed a $1.1 million fine to United Airlines.
  • The regulator alleged United had missed a mandatory security check for almost three years.
  • The airline said in a statement that the safety of its flights was “never in question”.

The Federal Aviation Administration has slapped United Airlines with a proposed fine of more than $1.1 million over allegations that the company failed to perform certain mandatory safety checks on its Boeing 777 for nearly three years.

In a Monday announcement, the FAA proposed a civil penalty of $1,149,306 against the airline for allegedly dodging required inspections of the fire detection system of its Boeing 777s from June 2018 through April 2021, rendering the planes “not airworthy” for more than 100,000 flights.

The FAA said United removed its fire system warning check from the Boeing 777 preflight checklist in 2018, an inspection task deemed mandatory in the plane’s maintenance specification manual.

Removing the fire system check from United’s pre-flight routine prevented the airline from performing mandatory safety inspections, the aviation safety regulator said.

In a statement to Insider, a United spokesperson said safety was the airline’s top priority.

United acknowledged changing its pre-flight checklist in 2018, saying it did so to account for “redundant built-in checks” that are automatically performed by the aircraft.

“The safety of our flights was never in question,” the spokesperson said.

A United representative said the FAA reviewed and approved its updated checklist at the time of the change.

On April 19, 2021, an FAA aviation safety inspector discovered that United’s fire alarm system check was not being performed, the regulator said in a letter Monday to United’s chief executive, who said was obtained by the media.

United said they “immediately updated their procedures” after being made aware of the issue. But the FAA alleged the airline knowingly operated six of its planes without performing the mandatory check over a three-and-a-half-hour period even after the issue was exposed, according to reports.

The hefty fine is a relatively rare move by the FAA, which has more recently opted to address potential safety issues with a joint response that often includes working with the airline, according to The Washington Post.

United has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s announcement, and the airline said Monday it plans to review the proposed penalty and respond accordingly.


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