The FAA's increased oversight of United could delay the airline's projects

Written by David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Saturday it was increasing oversight of United Airlines to ensure the company complies with safety rules, following a series of safety incidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement to Reuters that it would begin a formal evaluation to ensure that the Chicago-based airline “adheres to safety regulations, identifies risks, mitigates risks, and manages safety effectively.”

“Ongoing certification activities may be allowed to continue, but future projects may be delayed based on oversight findings.”

United declined to comment.

The FAA likely will not agree to allow customers to fly on United's new planes or new routes, a source confirmed to the Bloomberg News report. The Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment.

United said Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration will step up scrutiny of the airline after more than a half-dozen safety incidents in recent weeks.

An exterior panel was missing from a United plane when it landed in Oregon, prompting an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. A fleet-wide Boeing 737 MAX rolled onto the grass in Houston. A Boeing 777-200 operated by United bound for Japan lost a tire after takeoff from San Francisco and was diverted to Los Angeles, where it landed safely.

Sasha Johnson, United's vice president of corporate safety, said in a memo Friday that over the next few weeks, employees will see more of an FAA presence “in our operation as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities.”

These incidents “caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we could and should do differently,” Johnson's memo said, adding that the airline welcomes FAA input.

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FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Reuters on Tuesday that the agency would look at United more closely after recent events, saying that United CEO Scott Kirby “knows that we're going to be engaging with them a little bit more closely as we look at these events.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)

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