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US FAA boosting oversight of United, may delay airline projects

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is increasing oversight of United Airlines (UAL.O) to ensure the carrier's compliance with safety regulations, the agency said on Saturday, following a series of safety incidents.

The FAA will initiate a formal evaluation to ensure the Chicago-based airline "is complying with safety regulations; identifying hazards and mitigating risk; and effectively managing safety," it said in a statement to Reuters.

"Certification activities in process may be allowed to continue, but future projects may be delayed based on findings from oversight."

United declined to comment.

A source confirmed a Bloomberg News report that the FAA could potentially not approve allowing customers on United's new planes or new routes. The FAA declined to comment.

United said on Friday the FAA would boost scrutiny of the airline following more than a half dozen safety incidents in recent weeks.

An external panel was missing from a United aircraft when it landed in Oregon, prompting an FAA investigation. A Boeing 737 MAX in its fleet rolled onto the grass in Houston. A United-operated Boeing 777-200 bound for Japan lost a tire after takeoff from San Francisco and was diverted to Los Angeles, where it landed safely.

United's corporate safety vice president, Sasha Johnson, said in a memo on Friday that over the next several weeks employees will see more of a presence by the FAA "in our operation as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities."

The incidents "have rightfully caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we can and should do differently," Johnson's memo said, adding that the airline welcomed the FAA's input.

On Tuesday, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Reuters the agency would look at United more closely following the recent incidents, saying United CEO Scott Kirby "knows we're going to be engaging a little more closely with them as we look into these."

This article originally appeared on Reuters

Image source: Reuters

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