United Airlines Grounds Entire Fleet Of 757s

Stranded Passengers Pile Up At NYC Area Airports

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — “Unscheduled maintenance” is a phrase that can strike fear into airline passengers.

United Airlines was forced to fix its entire fleet of 757 jets on Tuesday night. All the aircraft were grounded, at least temporarily, to take care of a system update, reports CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

The resulting cancellations left some passengers stuck at LaGuardia Airport.

Joseph Rodriguez and his friends were supposed to heading home to Montana, but instead they were heading to a Queens hotel after their flight was grounded.

“It makes for a really long day. We’ve been here four, five hours. Pretty frustrating,” Rodriguez said.

The frustration occurred late Tuesday when United grounded its Boeing 757s after discovering it hadn’t properly followed Federal Aviation Administration guidelines in checking modifications to air data computers, which feed air speed, air pressure and other indicators into the auto pilot and other cockpit functions.

In all, 96 planes had to be inspected immediately.

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“We’re out $400 on ski tickets,” stranded traveler Will McCloud told Hennessey.

McCloud’s flight to a ski trip was held up just 10 minutes before boarding.

“They instructed us that something was wrong with the airplane and that we’d be off shortly. An hour later they came back and said it’ll just be another hour. Meanwhile, every other flight that we possibly could have got on left,” McCloud said.

He ended up heading to a hotel and hoping to fly out on Wednesday morning.

The last grounding of a major airline for maintenance violations was in 2008 when American grounded almost 300 of its MD-80 fleet because of improper modifications to electrical wiring. Delays lasted days and affected more than 300,000 travelers.

Thousands more could be affected with United’s grounding.

“Frustrating, tiring,” stranded traveler Kayla Lembo said when asked about her emotions.

The unusual step by United raises questions about the effectiveness of its maintenance systems.

Still, while inconvenient, Rodriguez and company said they weren’t complaining.

“Better to be safe than sorry. I prefer them to ground a plane than something happen,” Rodriguez said.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Ahmad says:

    United Airlines one of the pioneer airlines of USA. i hope and wish that these planes would be maintained and regulated in accordanc with FAA regulations.

  2. Ron McNeely says:

    This might best be described as an example of modern safety regulations and oversight doing what it was designed to do. President Carter deregulated the airlines via the Airline Deregulation Act of October 1978. Many of its provisions included greater safety oversight of the airline industry by the FAA. This sort of incident would not have happened pre-1978 because such oversight of these procedures was left entirely to the airlines themselves. Plans would not have been grounded, and none of us would have heard anything about the airline not following the rules.

  3. larry nwaka says:

    Better done now and bother about inconviniencing travellers than skip it and bother about mass burials , caskets in compensations some day

  4. mugo says:

    I think this was a good move as it shows that management safeguarded the sefety of passengers. Better late than being the late….

  5. Roberta Czyzyk says:

    I wrote this on United Airlines Facebook comments on 1/20/11:
    I am VERY CONCERNED THAT UNITED, IN ORDER TO SAVE $$, HAS GIVEN THEIR MAINTENANCE OF THEIR AIRCRAFT TO ST MOBILE…..VERY SUB STANDARD OPERATION….ACCORDING TO PBS’ ‘FRONTLINE’. IT IS OBVIOUSLY THE SAFETY OF YOUR PASSENGERS THAT YOU ARE CUTTING BACK ON!!! PLEASE RETHINK THIS SERIOUS PROBLEM!!!!!
    @ Angelina….You are right; This is VERY SCARY!

  6. Roberta says:

    I wrote this on United Airlines Facebook comments on 1/20/11:
    I am VERY CONCERNED THAT UNITED, IN ORDER TO SAVE $$, HAS GIVEN THEIR MAINTENANCE OF THEIR AIRCRAFT TO ST MOBILE…..VERY SUB STANDARD OPERATION….ACCORDING TO PBS’ ‘FRONTLINE’. IT IS OBVIOUSLY THE SAFETY OF YOUR PASSENGERS THAT YOU ARE CUTTING BACK ON!!! PLEASE RETHINK THIS SERIOUS PROBLEM!!!!!
    @ Angelina….You are right; This is VERY SCARY!

  7. pars says:

    its something that usually happens to united airlines … they keep on cancelling flights from there to here …. which is disgusting and frustrating … and when you call their call center … they just say WE ARE SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE .. WE KNOW HOW YOU FEEL … it sucks..

  8. Angelina says:

    That’s very scary. This country has to go back to regulating the Airlines industry, but thanks to Reagan whom every one seem to think was so wonderful this one of His Legacy…He destroyed this industry…I never said this wrong.

    1. Chris says:

      Your stupid! Carter Dereg’d the airlines in 1978. Stupid.

    2. Don says:

      At least we had jobs when Reagan was president!

  9. Angelina says:

    That’s very scary. This country has to go back to regulating the Airlines industry, but thanks to Reagan whom every one seem to think was so wonderful this one of His Legacy…He destroyed this industry…

    1. George Lurye says:

      Grounding of aircraft isn’t scary. It’s a proper response to a mistake. Do you know what’s scary? Not grounding the aircraft!

      Mistakes happen. FAA regulations on aircraft maintenance are complex to say the least and they change many times per year. The issue was a minor one, but since it was a safety issue, the airline did the right thing and grounded its aircraft. What is the problem is how they handled their passengers. These people should have been put on the earliest flights out to connect through United/Continental hubs. Additional a/c must be made available quickly. The culprit here is the hub and spoke system which doesn’t allow for any of that to happen.

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