Cite Four Recent Incidents Involving Boeing 737s
Pilots at United Airlines have fired
the latest salvo in their contentious war of words against the
carrier's management. In a letter sent last week to Acting FAA
Administrator Robert Sturgell, the chief of the United branch of
the Air Line Pilots Association said four recent engine failures on
Boeing 737s flown by United may indicate "maintenance standards
have deteriorated at United as operational decisions are
increasingly driven by economic considerations."
In his letter, UAL Captain Steve Wallach called on Sturgell to
press senior management at the Chicago-based carrier to "stop the
egregious management decisions which have caused events such as
four engine failures in two weeks," adding that United has
increasingly made maintenance decisions "based on economics, often
times at the expense of safety and regulatory compliance."
The Wall Street Journal reports the four incidents occurred from
July 12 to August 3. The engine failures took place shortly after
takeoff, and resulted in emergency returns to the airport but no
Pilots at United have been at odds with management at the
nation's number 2 airline for years, over pay cuts pilots agreed to
take even as senior executives, including CEO Glenn Tilton, were
rewarded with lucrative bonuses. Most recently,
the airline reached a temporary agreement with
ALPA to limit what the airline said were pilot "work
slowdowns," that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights
United doesn't deny that four of its 737 Classics -- which are
due for retirement by the end of the year -- suffered engine
shutdowns... but spokeswoman Jean Medina vehemently denied those
failures had anything to do with the airline's maintenance
The airline's "engine performance and maintenance requirements
exceed all federal safety standards," Medina continued, pointedly
adding "It is unconscionable and intentionally misleading for ALPA
to suggest otherwise."
Medina also disputed the union's separate claim that related
engine work on United's 737s is performed by outsourced maintenance
workers. "All of this engine maintenance is performed by our
dedicated and highly competent employees in San Francisco, and is
held to our own very high safety standards and those of the FAA,"
Medina added United is investigating why the airliners' CFM56
turbofans shut down in flight.