United Airlines CEO Promises To Keep Passengers Safe, The Lowest Bar To Clear

Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has published an open letter to customers as a response to the airline’s multiple high-profile mechanical failures over the past two months. Boeing aircraft operated by the carrier had a landing gear tire fall off, a slat break apart and an engine burst into flames, among several other mishaps. With things looking dicey at United, Kirby wrote:

“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety. While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus.”

While I’ve never been an airline executive, it seems like safety should always be a high priority. It’s not good for business if a passenger isn’t around anymore to book tickets for another flight. Boeing has deservingly been under intense scrutiny over the door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max in January, but the level of maintenance at airlines has slipped. Many recent incidents involving older Boeing 777 and 737 planes can’t be blamed on shoddy work during construction when these airframes have been flying for decades in some cases. Kirby continued:


“Our team is reviewing the details of each case to understand what happened and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups. This is in addition to some changes that were already planned, including an extra day of in-person training for all pilots starting in May and a centralized training curriculum for our new-hire maintenance technicians.”

United’s first significant incident of 2024 occurred when the rudder pedals stuck on a Boeing 737 Max 8 during a landing roll at Newark Liberty International Airport in early February. Federal regulators found that cold temperature contributed to the issue, but United resolved the problem by simply replacing three parts on the plane.

Two transpacific flights from and to San Francisco International Airport suffered critical landing gear issues. A Boeing 777 flight from SFO to Osaka, Japan had a landing gear tire fall off during takeoff. The massive wheel smashed through a fence into a parking lot and wrote off two cars. Another Boeing 777 flight from Syndey, Australia to SFO was spurting hydraulic fluid from a landing gear during takeoff. Both planes turned back before heading across the ocean and safely landed.

United Airlines had blown past the point where these incidents were a warning sign to improve. The Chicago-based carrier needs to get its house in order before something tragic happens.

For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.