United Airlines is facing renewed scrutiny of its safety performance after a Boeing 757-200 lost a wheel from its main landing gear as it took off from Los Angeles international airport – the latest in a series of incidents that have drawn negative attention to the carrier, not least from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The aircraft (N14107) was operating as flight UA1001 on 8 July with 174 passengers and seven crew on board. It later landed safely in Denver. According to Cirium fleets data, the aircraft is almost 30 years old.

The Chicago-based carrier did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Aircraft involved in 8 July incident is almost 30 years old

The incident is similar to one on 7 March, when a tyre fell off a United 777-200 as it was departing from San Francisco International airport, bound for Japan. The tyre landed in an employee parking lot, crushing several cars but causing no injuries. The aircraft diverted to Los Angeles, where it landed safely.

That same month, another 777, travelling to San Francisco from Sydney was forced to make an emergency landing after suffering a mid-air hydraulic leak.

Those were just three of several recent incidents which have led to the FAA stepping up safety oversight of the carrier. Others included a 737 Max 8 that ran off a taxiway in Houston, and a 737-800 that landed in Medford, Oregon with an external panel missing, among several other examples.

No injuries were reported as a result of the mishaps, which appear to have been unrelated events amid tens of thousands of daily US flights that are safely operated. But with regulators, lawmakers and the flying public on high alert following the 5 January door-plug blow-out on a 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines, each incident has been met with fierce scrutiny.

The FAA had temporarily paused United’s certification activities, preventing it from adding new aircraft and routes.

In May, the Chicago-based carrier said it had been cleared by the FAA to work toward resuming those activities, touting progress on improving safety across its massive domestic and international networks. The regulator, however, said at the time that it “has not approved any expansion of United Airlines’ routes or fleets”.