Rash Of Air Scares Raises Safety Concerns
Rash Of Air Scares Raises Safety Concerns, Engine problems and cockpit smoke force three United jets to return to airports in 24 hours. 3 Emergency Landings Put Focus on United’s Fleet, United Airlines says it is conducting a thorough review this morning of three weekend incidents that left hundreds of passengers stranded and some wondering whether the airline’s rocky merger with Continental has undermined its operations.
Since their merger two years ago, the two airlines have combined operations this year. Since 2010, the new United has suffered a rash of bad publicity and now has the worst records in the industry for delays.
In June, the last month for which the government released data, United passengers filed nearly 600 complaints. That’s five times higher than its nearest competitor and five times higher than before the merger.
“We’ve seen this huge spike in customer complaints,” ABC News aviation consultant Steve Ganyard said. “Now that we’re seeing a rash of in-flight emergencies, the FAA is going to want to ask are they having the same problem integrating their maintenance.”
United Flight 96 heading from New Jersey’s Newark Airport to Berlin was reportedly forced to make an emergency landing Saturday when a tire burst and the debris was sucked into one of the plane’s engines.
Witnesses on the ground said they saw fire coming from the Boeing 757′s engine as they watched in suspense. “I ran to the window, looked outside, saw the airplane and saw fire coming out,” D’Jenaba Johnson Jones said.
Alex Jackson said, “As it was elevating, I noticed that there was a flame spitting out of the left engine; it was kind of going like pop-pop- pop-pop.”
Cellphone video showed the plane circling for two hours and 15 minutes to burn off fuel before all 173 passengers and crew members landed safely back at Newark Airport.