WSJ: “FAA Calls Out ‘Systemic’ Hazard at United”

This isn’t good.

The letter doesn’t specify the violations, but those terms could mean issues like aviators not undergoing requisite, periodic check rides overseen by examiners within the required time, or the airline lacking records to document completion of such proficiency checks.

The letter also cites problems with scheduling, which could include flying longer than the FAA allows. The FAA approves airlines’ systems governing such matters, and carriers are required to comply with those rules.

…In this case, according to the FAA letter, voluntary reports of 12 apparent violations in 13 months stemming “from the same or similar set of circumstances” indicate a “systemic” hazard, requiring United to conduct “a complete review of your processes associated with crew member qualification” and develop an “action plan…to mitigate this hazard.”

As a result, the FAA stopped accepting additional voluntary disclosures involving those issues, Hugh Thomas, the agency’s principal operations inspector for United, told Michael Quiello, United’s vice president for safety, in the letter.

The serious issues here only get muddied when mixed with a kitchen sink of union complaints including over crew meals, however.

Union leaders of United’s 12,000 pilots, who are members of the Air Line Pilots Association union, in recent weeks have raised complaints with the Chicago-based company about issues including pay, training, scheduling, crew meals and alleging “pilot pushing,” or encouraging aviators to skirt existing contractual or FAA rules.

In a March 27 memo to United pilots, ALPA leaders called on United to fully comply with the pilot contract approved in December 2012. “Until such time as the company is willing to address their deficiencies in honoring our contract,” the union’s leadership “will no longer entertain overtures from management to fix their operational problems,” the memo said.

Read the whole thing and google for it if you hit a paywall.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Given the cost/service/quality-cutting orientation of United’s management, none of this surprises me.

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