American Airlines pilots union warns of ‘significant spike’ in safety problems 

(The Hill) -- A union representing pilots for American Airlines warned over the weekend that there has been a “significant spike” in safety problems at the airline.

“APA has been tracking a significant spike in safety- and maintenance-related problems in our operation," the safety committee of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) wrote in a memo dated April 13. "While United Airlines is currently under public and government scrutiny, it could just as easily be American Airlines."

The union, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, listed a series of “problematic trends” it has observed. Among the included problems were tools being left in wheel wells, a rise in collisions between aircraft being towed and longer intervals between routine aircraft inspections.

The committee also said there has been improper paperwork when damaged aircraft are moved to a new location and a lack of proper special flight permits on international maintenance ferry flights.

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The committee urged pilots to remain vigilant and take their time to ensure safety.

“Remember: Don’t rush, don’t be intimidated, and don’t be pressured into doing something that doesn’t pass the ‘smell test.’ Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe," the memo states. "Be mindful of the hazards while operating on the ramps and taxiways in congested airports staffed with inexperienced controllers and ground personnel."

In an update posted Monday, APA President Ed Sicher said the union met with senior management earlier this month to address the safety concerns.

“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,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to American Airlines for comment. 

This comes as the aviation industry has faced increased scrutiny in recent months. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said last month that it would be increasing oversight of United Airlines. Separately, the FAA is investigating Boeing for safety concerns after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines aircraft earlier this year.

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