United CEO reassures commitment to safety after Boeing incidents

Several incidents with Boeing airplanes in recent months have caused concern among travelers.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby sent a letter to customers reassuring them that safety is their top priority in response to a series of incidents involving Boeing jets.

The incidents included a United Boeing 737-800 landing in Medford, Oregon with a missing fuselage panel, a United Boeing 737-900ER experiencing flames from an engine after takeoff from Houston, a United Boeing 777 losing a wheel during takeoff from San Francisco, a United Boeing 737 Max sliding off a runway in Houston, and a United Boeing 777 trailing hydraulic fluid leaving Sydney.


The big picture: “Our team is reviewing the details of each case to understand what happened and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups,” Kirby said.

  • The airline is adding an extra day to pilot training, retooling training for new mechanics, and dedicating more resources to supplier network management.
  • Kirby added that safety is “at the center of everything that we do.” 

Go deeper: Other incidents involving Boeing jets include an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 losing a door plug and a Latam Airlines flight from Sydney to Auckland experiencing a sudden plunge.

  • Boeing’s problems have disrupted United’s operations, leading to frozen hiring for new pilots and grounding of their fleet of 737 Max 9 jets.
  • Certification of the new Boeing 737 Max 10, which United has ordered, has also been delayed due to quality and safety concerns at Boeing.
  • United is considering purchasing more jets from Airbus as a result of the issues with Boeing, Kirby told investors last week. 
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