American Airlines Pilots Union Reports Rise in Safety and Maintenance Issues

The Allied Pilots Association, the union representing American Airlines pilots, recently issued an alert to its members noting that the group “has been tracking a significant increase in safety and maintenance-related problems in our operation.”

Problematic trends include tools being left in wheel wells, an increasing number of collisions between aircraft being towed, maintenance actions not being properly closed out with repeat issues, pressure to return aircraft to service to maintain on-time performance due to a lack of spare parts and longer intervals between routine aircraft inspections, according to the notice posted on the union’s website on April 13.

This alert comes as airplane manufacturer Boeing and several U.S. airlines face increased scrutiny following multiple safety incidents this year.

In January, a mid-air emergency on an Alaska Airlines flight. Government officials said it is very fortunate that no one was seriously hurt or killed, but the incident highlighted ongoing investigations. United Airlines has also faced issues so far in 2022, including a tire falling off a plane during a flight leaving San Francisco.

Amid the turmoil, a Boeing whistleblower is expected to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday regarding issues at the manufacturer, which has faced production challenges.

The American Airlines’ pilots union said in its statement that the issues are not unique to its competitor: “While United Airlines is currently under public and government scrutiny, it could just as easily be American Airlines.”

TIME reached out to the Allied Pilots Association for more details and American Airlines for comment.

The union represents 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, according to its website. In a April 15 update, union president Ed Sicher wrote that the union had met with senior management earlier that month to discuss identified operational hazards. He said they since secured a commitment to involve the union earlier in a safety risk assessment process and asked to “have a seat at the table for the entire quality assurance process.”

The union reminded its members that captains must comply with all safety standards.

“While noncompliance in the United States presents certain risk to your career, noncompliance outside the United States presents a clear and present danger to your personal freedom,” the membership update statement read. “Recently, one of our crews had an in-flight emergency and recovery back into a foreign country. The foreign authorities gathered all documentation and meticulously inspected the aircraft status paperwork, interrogated the crew, and demanded they explain and justify the checklist procedures they conducted.”

The union cautioned its members to put safety first despite job pressures.

“Remember: Don’t rush, don’t be intimidated, and don’t be pressured into doing something that doesn’t pass the ‘smell test,'” the alert read. “Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it safe.”