American Airline Pilots Blow Whistle On Boeing Issues

April 22, 2024

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents pilots at American Airlines, has raised concerns about a notable increase in safety and maintenance issues within the airline’s operations. According to the APA, there have been several recent incidents that highlight troubling trends in safety practices.

Among these incidents, the union has reported tools being left in aircraft wheel wells, more frequent collisions between aircraft being moved on the ground, and objects being left in areas close to jet bridges where they shouldn’t be. This information came to light in a recent warning issued to pilots by the APA.

One particular incident involved a flight departing from Phoenix on March 25, during which a pilot discovered a hammer in the left wheel well of the aircraft during a pre-flight check. Upon further inspection, maintenance staff also found a pair of pliers and a screwdriver in the same area. This discovery underscores the importance of thorough inspections and proper tool handling to prevent potential safety hazards.

The APA has emphasized the need for vigilance, especially in busy airport environments where the combination of crowded ramps, taxiways, and possibly inexperienced personnel can increase the risk of accidents. They cautioned, “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe. Be mindful of the hazards while operating on the ramps and taxiways in congested airports staffed with inexperienced controllers and ground personnel.”

This warning comes at a time when another major airline, United Airlines, is under scrutiny for a series of safety incidents. United’s issues have ranged from engine and structural problems to a wheel detaching during takeoff. These issues have led to increased oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In response to these safety concerns, APA President Capt. Ed Sicher has reported that union leaders met with American Airlines’ senior management to discuss the identified operational hazards. Following these discussions, the union has secured a commitment from management to involve the APA earlier in the safety risk assessment process and to ensure the union has a significant role in the entire quality assurance process.

American Airlines has responded by highlighting its commitment to safety, noting that it operates a robust safety program which includes regular collaboration with the FAA and all its unions, including the APA, to maintain and enhance its strong safety record. The FAA has not directly commented on the union’s statements.

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