United Airlines Flew an Unsafe Plane 23 Times, New Federal Report Finds

Published May 31, 2017
Published May 31, 2017

United Airlines engineers made a mechanical repair and then failed to perform the necessary inspection for 19 days.

United Unsafe Flights

David McNew/Getty Images

A lot of people get nervous flying.

They tell themselves to breathe, have a glass of red wine before take off, and try to remember that the odds of dying in a plane crash are much lower than those of dying in a car crash.

Still, there’s something about not being in control that piques our anxieties.

Anxieties that are likely to be even more pronounced after a new Federal Aviation Administration report.

The citation, released Tuesday, charges United Airlines with using an aircraft “that was not in airworthy condition” on 23 domestic and international passenger flights.

The airline — which has already been in hot water this year for violently ejecting a passenger and unintentionally killing a large celebrity rabbit — faces a $435,000 fine.

The reason the plane was unfit can be traced back to June 2014, when United mechanics replaced a fuel pump pressure switch on one of their planes.

They then failed to perform the required inspection of the repair for 19 days.

Even worse, the FAA claims that United continued to fly the plane after the agency warned them of the problem.

“Maintaining the highest levels of safety depends on operators closely following all applicable rules and regulations,” Michael Huerta, the agency’s chief, said in a statement. “Failing to do so can create unsafe conditions.”

United has issued a counter-statement, claiming they addressed the problem immediately after they were made aware of it and are continuing to work with the FAA to see what went wrong.

Despite all of these PR nightmares, the mega-airline’s stock actually hit an all-time high this spring, according to Fortune.

This seemingly contradictory trend seems to echo the feelings of Saturday Night Live cast member, Colin Jost.

“After all this, I will never fly United Airlines ever again,” Jost joked. “Unless they have a cheap flight to wherever I’m going. In which case I’ll definitely fly United.”

Passenger abuse and dead rabbits are one thing — but will these frightening safety charges be the last straw for United’s customers?

Next, learn about the ongoing quest for flying cars. Then, see how ladybug wings are inspiring airplane designers.

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer.