American Airlines Pilots Union Raises Alarm Over Safety Issues

American Airlines pilots' union raises safety concerns, citing issues like tools left in aircraft, collisions during towing, and reduced maintenance checks. The airline and FAA respond, highlighting safety as a shared priority.

Shivani Chauhan
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American Airlines Pilots Union Raises Alarm Over Safety Issues

American Airlines Pilots Union Raises Alarm Over Safety Issues

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), the union representing American Airlines pilots, has expressed serious concerns about a "significant spike" in safety and maintenance problems at the airline.

The union's safety committee has identified several troubling trends, including tools being left in aircraft wheel wells, an increasing number of collisions between planes during towing operations, and items left in sterile areas near jet bridges.

In one incident on March 25, a pilot discovered a hammer, pliers, and a screwdriver in the left wheel well of a flight departing from Phoenix . The union also noted that American Airlines has extended intervals between routine aircraft inspections, eliminated overnight maintenance checks unless a plane requires special attention, and now conducts "abbreviated" test flights on aircraft returning from major maintenance or long-term storage.

The APA has urged its members to remain vigilant and not succumb to pressure to rush or compromise safety. The union met with American Airlines' senior management to discuss these operational hazards and secured a commitment from the airline to involve the union earlier in the safety risk assessment process.

Why this matters: The safety concerns raised by the American Airlines pilots union highlight the importance of maintaining the highest standards of safety and maintenance in the aviation industry. Any lapses or shortcuts in safety protocols can have serious consequences for passengers, crew, and the public.

In response to the union's concerns, American Airlines stated that safety is a shared mission and that the company has a robust safety program guided by its industry-leading safety management system . The airline emphasized that it collaborates regularly with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and unions like the APA to further enhance its safety culture.

The FAA, which requires all U.S. airlines to have Safety Management Systems to identify and address potential hazards, has not directly commented on the union's allegations or whether it has increased oversight of American Airlines. However, the aviation industry as a whole has faced increased scrutiny recently, with the FAA boosting its monitoring of United Airlines and investigating Boeing for safety issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Pilots union reports spike in safety, maintenance issues at American Airlines
  • Issues include tools left in aircraft, collisions during towing, items in sterile areas
  • Union met with airline, secured commitment to involve union in safety assessments
  • Airline says it has robust safety program, collaborates with FAA and unions
  • FAA has increased oversight of airlines, investigating safety issues at other carriers