American Airlines pilots warned of ‘significant spike’ in safety issues

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An American Airlines pilots union is alerting its members about safety issues onboard the airline’s aircraft as it continues to observe what it called a “significant spike” in “problematic trends”.

The Allied Pilots Union (APA) said it had received reports of increasing numbers of collisions between aircraft being tugged or towed, tools left in wheel wells and the removal of overnight maintenance checks in addition to other issues.

The memo was published on the union’s website on 13 April.

In a statement, American Airlines said: “Safety at any airline is a shared mission and it’s especially true at American. Our robust safety program is guided by our industry-leading safety management system.

“It includes a multitude of collaborative programs — and regular touchpoints — with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and all our unions, including APA, to further bolster our strong safety record and enhance our ever-evolving safety culture”.

The union urged its members to keep their focus on safety instead of hurrying to get the job done.

“Don’t be pressured into doing something that doesn’t pass the ‘smell test’”, the union’s memo continued. “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe”.

In a separate statement, APA President Ed Sicher said that he’d met with the airline’s senior management to discuss the “operational hazards” the group had identified.

“APA is squarely focused on finding solutions — which will require collaboration between the union and management — and management’s initial response to our concerns was encouraging”, the statement said.

The union has 15,000 members and is the certified bargaining agent for the airline’s pilots.

The group said that while United Airlines has been in the spotlight for concerns regarding its safety standards, American Airlines could easily be next.

Last month, United experienced eight safety problems in a two-week timeframe, including an engine fire ignited by plastic packaging and a tyre falling from a plane after takeoff.

The airline industry has been plagued by safety woes after a door plug was ejected from a Boeing 737 Max 9 during an Alaska Airlines flight in January.

The National Transportation Board launched an investigation into the incident and the Federal Aviation Administration has tightened up safety measures, particularly relating to Boeing planes.

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