Federal office to assess FAA’s actions to address maintenance at United Airlines

United Airlines had a temporary ground stop of all of its departing flights
Travers Lewis / Shutterstock.com

The United States (US) Transportation Department Office of Inspector General (DOT OIG) has confirmed that it will conduct a review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight in relation to United Airlines’ maintenance practices. 

On May 9, 2024, the DOT OIG announced that it will “specifically evaluate” the FAA’s actions to address “maintenance non-compliances and violations at the air carrier”. 

The audit comes in light of the FAA itself signaling that it will increase oversight of United Airlines and delay certification processes in March 2024, following a spike in safety incidents at the carrier.  

Incidents earlier this year included a United Boeing 777-200 that lost a tire shortly after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on March 7, 2024, and a preliminary report into an incident involving “stuck” rudders on a United 737 MAX 8.      

In a statement, the DOT OIG highlighted that the “longstanding safety record” in the US is due in part to the FAA and individual carriers maintaining the highest standards when operating and maintaining their aircraft fleets.  

“However, recent safety events with United Airlines—such as flight diversions that can be traced to mechanical problems—serve to remind us that FAA oversight of maintenance programs is paramount,” the DOT OIG statement said. 

Over the past five years, the DOT OIG has issued a series of audit reports and recommendations related to the FAA’s oversight of maintenance at several airlines including Allegiant Air, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. A review of SkyWest Airlines is also currently in process.  

In a message to United customers on March 18, 2024, CEO Scott Kirby said that the incidents “have our attention and have sharpened our focus”.     

The DOT OIG confirmed it will begin the audit later this month, conducting its work at FAA headquarters in Washington DC and at the FAA offices responsible for oversight of the carrier.  

The Federal office will also visit United Airlines’ maintenance hubs in Chicago. 

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