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United Gets FAA Green Light to Again Certify Aircraft, Add New Routes

The airline says there's still 'more work to do' with the FAA.

A United Airlines Boeing 767 departs Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Noah Escobar)

United can once ramp up the certification of aircraft and add new routes after a nearly two-month-long FAA-mandated pause due to safety concerns. In an internal memo, the Chicago-based carrier announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is lifting restrictions on various certification activities.

“Due to recent safety events, the FAA is increasing oversight of United Airlines to ensure that it is complying with safety regulations; identifying hazards and mitigating risk; and effectively managing safety,” the agency said in a March statement. “Certification activities in process may be allowed to continue, but future projects may be delayed based on findings from oversight.”

Beginning in March, the FAA hampered the airline’s ability to add several new routes and aircraft after a slew of incidents earlier this year. This move resulted in the carrier postponing the launch of new service between Tokyo to Cebu, originally scheduled for July 31, and Newark to Faro, which was slated to begin in May.

While certification activities can start again, United told employees its work with the agency isn’t done yet. “Importantly though, our work with the FAA continues. There is more work to do, and we remain open to their perspective on things that can make us an even safer airline,” the memo added.

On May 9, the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Office of Inspector General announced it would be probing the FAA’s oversight of United’s maintenance practices. “Specifically, we will evaluate FAA’s actions to address maintenance non-compliances and violations at the air carrier,” the DOT said.

FAA Says It Hasn’t Given Full Sign-Off

In a statement, the FAA added that it “has not approved any expansion of United Airlines’ routes or fleets. The Certificate Holder Evaluation Program that the FAA is conducting for United is ongoing and safety will determine the timeline for completing it.”

Personnel from the agency continue to be present as the airline conducts final inspections on newly delivered aircraft.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 5:21 p.m. ET to add a statement from the FAA. 

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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