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United says it will restart adding new planes and routes amid FAA safety review - The Points Guy

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United says it will restart adding new planes and routes amid FAA safety review

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United Airlines said on Thursday that it would resume the process of certifying newly delivered aircraft and new routes. The airline had paused both in recent months as the Federal Aviation Administration launched a review of the airline's practices amid a series of incidents that raised concern over safety.

In a memo to employees, the airline said that the FAA will allow United to "begin the process of restarting our certification activities, including new aircraft and routes."

In response, the FAA clarified that it had not yet fully approved the airline to add any new planes or routes, though.

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"The Certificate Holder Evaluation Program that the FAA is conducting for United is ongoing and safety will determine the timeline for completing it," the agency said. It noted that it will require FAA personnel to be involved in the final inspection of new aircraft — something airlines have previously been allowed to complete independently.

Nevertheless, the memo suggested that United was making progress at moving through the agency's review process. The airline noted that it was continuing to "coordinate closely" with the regulator as it begins the initial steps needed to restart the process of certifying fleet and network additions.

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"Importantly though, our work with the FAA continues," the memo said. "There is more work to do, and we remain open to their perspective on things that can make us an even safer airline. That means we will continue to see an FAA presence in our operation as they review our work processes, manuals and facilities."

The FAA stepped up oversight of United in March following several high-profile incidents that raised safety concerns surrounding the airline. This all came amid broader safety concerns about Boeing aircraft after a door plug fell off a jet during an Alaska Airlines flight; the incident caused a rapid decompression and left an open hole in the fuselage as it returned to Oregon's Portland International Airport (PDX).

Some of the incidents that made the news were mundane or routine maintenance issues that arise on flights around the world every day and do not create a safety risk. However, some were more notable. This includes a tire that fell from a Boeing 777 during takeoff from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). No one involved in the Alaska Airlines flight or the other incidents was injured.

The FAA's review involves pausing various certification activities at United — including those that must be completed whenever the airline begins operating to a new destination or brings a newly delivered airplane into service. Several previously announced new routes were delayed as a result, such as new service to Faro, Portugal.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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