Are the recent issues typical, or cause for concern?

The mishaps were not the result of “systemic problems,” said Robert Sumwalt, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board who now heads a new aviation safety centre at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“Some of these issues are things that happen occasionally, but often don’t get reported in media,” Mr Sumwalt said, though he emphasised that none were acceptable.

Kyra Dempsey, who writes about aviation accidents in a blog called Admiral Cloudberg, said that United’s recent issues were being “falsely conflated with Boeing’s troubles.”

“While it’s bad luck that United had so many incidents in such a short period, in general such incidents happen frequently around the world and they aren’t on the rise overall,” Ms Dempsey said.

How has United responded?

Mr Kirby’s 270-word message to United customers, including to members of the airline’s frequent flier program, started to be sent on March 18 morning, said Josh Freed, a spokesman for United.

Starting in May, United pilots will have an extra day of in-person training, a change that was already planned before the incidents, Mr Kirby wrote. The airline will also use a “centralised training curriculum for our new hire maintenance technicians” and will dedicate additional resources to the carrier’s supply chain.

What government agencies oversee these issues, and how are they responding?

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the country’s aviation system and investigates safety incidents on US airlines, while the N.T.S.B. investigates the causes of accidents, collisions and crashes involving planes flown by US carriers, in addition to other accidents involving commercial and mass transit operators. Both agencies have discretion on what they investigate, Mr Sumwalt said.

Currently, the N.T.S.B. is investigating the incident that occurred on March 8 in Houston, when the plane veered off the runway, an agency spokesperson said. The N.T.S.B. is also looking into a Feb 10 Los Angeles-to-Newark flight, operated by United, that experienced severe turbulence, leading to injuries among more than a dozen passengers. (The Boeing 777 landed normally, but the flight was met by medical personnel.)

Safety experts said some issues don’t necessarily rise to the level of an investigation by either agency.

For example, partial loss of some of an airplane’s multiple hydraulics systems is common, said Michael McCormick, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a former F.A.A. control tower operator. The F.A.A. may or may not get involved for this kind of issue, unless there’s a pattern, Mr Sumwalt said.

The January episode involving the blown door plug aboard the Alaska Airlines jet is under investigation by the N.T.S.B. and the Justice Department. NYTIMES



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