April 15, 2024

The United Airlines logo

The United Airlines logo
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

Another United Airlines plane, another long-haul trip cut short. For the 14th time this month, one of the carrier’s planes had a safety issue that the Federal Aviation Administration has had to investigate. The flight, initially leaving San Francisco for Paris, was able to land safely in Denver after the crew complained of engine trouble.

Regulators have already told United Airlines that they will be keeping a closer eye on the company’s procedures amid an uptick in safety incidents.

“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,” Sasha Johnson, United’s vice president of corporate safety, wrote to the company’s staff in a memo earlier this month.

The plane this time, like in many of the other March incidents, is an older Boeing jet, a 777. The Boeing 777 was first commercially flown almost 30 years ago, in 1995, by United Airlines. United has been trying to freshen up its fleet to phase the planes out.

“We have a significant fleet of 777 and 767 that need to retire at some point later this decade,” Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer, said on an earnings call in October. But since the next-generation 737 Max 10s are caught in developmental limbo as Boeing deals with the fallout of a 737 Max 9 door plug blowout in January.

Delays in getting those new Boeing aircraft have made things difficult for United. The carrier blamed the manufacturer’s issues for a pilot hiring freeze.

“We just won’t grow as fast as we thought we would in 2024 due to continued delays at Boeing,” the company said.

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