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The American Airlines Pilots Union Sees a Spike In Safety Issues

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American Airlines
An American Airlines Boeing 737 takes off from Miami on Dec. 29, 2020. (Reuters/Marco Bello / Fox News)

(CTN News) – A significant spike in both safety-related and maintenance-related problems has been detected at American Airlines, according to its pilot union.

“Problematic trends” the union has been monitoring include tools left in wheel wells, an increase in collisions between tuggers and towkers, and an increasing number of items left in the safe area near jet bridges, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) warned pilots Saturday.

A tool was found in the wheel well of a flight that left Phoenix on March 25. This phone call was received by the APA Safety Committee.

In the left wheel well of the aircraft, a pilot found a hammer during the pre-flight exterior inspection. A maintenance worker further inspected the aircraft and discovered pliers and a screwdriver in the left wheel well.

In crowded airports with inexperienced controllers and ground personnel, just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe. Be mindful of the hazards when dealing with ramps and taxiways.

According to the APA, while United Airlines is currently under scrutiny by the public and government, American Airlines could just as easily be in the same boat.

Scott Kirby, United CEO, made a public announcement last month reassuring flyers that the carrier is investigating the string of incidents that have recently involved its planes, including engine problems and a wheel falling off.

Over the past two months, United has experienced eight unrelated incidents on its aircraft. Due to this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has increased oversight of the carrier in order to ensure, in part, that it complies with safety regulations.

Captain Ed Sicher, APA president, said the group met earlier this month with management to discuss “operational hazards.” Management now has “full attention” on the “operational hazards.”

In addition, Sicher said APA secured a commitment from management to involve the union earlier in the safety risk assessment (SRA) process, and APA also hopes to gain a seat at the table for the entire quality assurance process.

According to American Airlines, its “robust safety program is guided by our industry-leading safety management system,” which includes a multitude of collaborative programs – and regular touchpoints – with the FAA and all of our unions, including APA, to boost our safety reputation.”

It told FOX Business that aviation safety depends on sharing and analyzing large amounts of data, and that all U.S. American Airlines must have Safety Management Systems (SMS) to identify, monitor and address potential hazards early before they become serious problems.

Agency American Airlines officials said they work with carriers to ensure their systems mitigate events’ effects.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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