United Airlines First 787 at Paine Field in Everett. Phone: Mal Muir – Airlinereporter.com
On Tuesday the 4th December 2012, United flight 1146 scheduled from Houston to Newark, diverted to New Orleans due to a mechanical issue. An emergency had been declared during descent and following standard procedure, the flight was to be welcomed by emergency crews upon landing.
As they approached the airport, there was talk between the tower controllers and the crew on board that would indicate they had predicted there might be an electrical problem. Recordings taken from LiveATC (thanks to NYCAviation for the transcript) indicate the crew were forwarding instruction for the ground crews to help them inspect the aircraft upon landing:
UA 1146: If in fact anything’s going on it’ll be the area right behind the wings, the rear of the wings back to the third door on each side. Tower: Which wing? UA 1146: Uh, we don’t know. Either one. It might be on either side. But it’s behind the wing where high load electrical stuff is and back to the rear cargo. But we don’t anticipate anything, that’s just where he needs to be. Tower: Okay. UA 1146: So following us would be perfect.
The Dreamliner landed safely and all 184 passengers & crew on-board were unharmed. The unexpected arrival marked the first Boeing 787 to land at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. United re-booked passengers on another aircraft and set out to work with Boeing to investigate the issue.
United Airlines First Boeing 787 on Launch Day at the Boeing Factory in Everett. Phone: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com
United Spokesperson Christen Davis confirms to AirlineReporter.com that the maintenance inspection of the 787 that diverted to New Orleans (N26902 the latest of their their 787s) revealed that one of the six electrical generators on the aircraft failed and that back up systems allowed it to be powered by the remaining five. United will replace the generator, run additional checks and then return the aircraft to service as soon as possible.
United also confirmed that this diversion was unrelated to the latest FAA Airworthiness Directive to all 787 operators that required mandatory inspections to the fuel feed systems. The FAA implemented these mandatory checks this week, which had already been recommended by Boeing. United’s 787s have already undergone the inspections for the fuel systems & Davis confirmed that United would continue to work closely with Boeing and the FAA to determine what went wrong with flight 1146.
This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
The airline passion runs deep in many people. Recently, I had the opportunity to e-meet Jack, who is a 16 year old airline fan that loves Continental and United Airlines. With the change over from Continental to United, a local Houston news station interviewed Jack Hardy and I really think it embodies many of our passions for airlines.
On top of being a certified AvGeek, Jack also runs the site, The United Airlines Fleet Website, which follows the most recent updates of United’s fleet. I asked him, via email why he became the AvGeek he is today. Here is his reply:
My earliest memory of flying, around age 4, was telling my parents I love flying. Ever since, I have been an airline aficionado with a particular love for Continental. Now I carry this love to United as Continental and United merged back in 2010.
Four United liveries caught at ORD this January. Photo by Jack.
I grew up watching Continental flights takeoff and land at Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). My neighbors worked for Continental, and they let me fly the Boeing 767-400 simulator at age seven. At age 10, I could easily tell you what type of aircraft that was flying over, and when I learned the fleet, I could tell you based on the tail number what type aircraft it belonged to.
As Continental and United merged, I have taken my love for Continental and transitioned it to United. While I may not fully agree with everything that has occurred in the merger, I thinks it’s great that United is now the World’s Largest Airline. Also, that my home airport is the largest hub to United.
After finding out that I was too young to get a summer job with an airline, I started the United Airlines Fleet Website. The website is dedicated to tracking each of the 1,314 aircraft that are flown by or for United. The site covers delivery year, aircraft number, type of entertainment, power, seat type and seat maps for each aircraft in the United fleet.
Jack waves to the last Continental flight (painted in United livery) to IAH. Photo from Jack.
The site is also dedicated to providing excellent customer service by answering all fleet questions and suggestions for improving the site. Every day it gets better and on June 16th the site will have a complete new design based on what people have asked for.
When I am reading all of the comments about the site, I cannot help but smile as I am only a 16 year old who runs what I call a priceless United travel tool.
Someday, I want to be a CEO or a Customer Service Director for an airline; as I want to restore the magic of flight
AMERICAN AIRLINES FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
I am going to take a wild guess that probably most of you have heard the news that American Airlines has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. There are all sorts of stories out there, so I am not going to re-hash it all. The bottom line is I think this is a great opportunity for American to take a huge leap forward from being an old, out dated (in more than one way) legacy airline to being a slim-lined and successful carrier. Can they do it? I am not fully sure, but either is anyone else, so we will have to see how it will work out. I think that the airline was already on the correct path and this will allow them to speed up the process a bit.
United Boeing 757 and Continental Boeing 737 at LAX in August 2010.
UNITED AND CONTINENTAL AIRLINES GET ONE OPERATING CERTIFICATE
How do two merging airlines know when they are only one? The answer is not easy. It mostly depends on who you are and how you interact with the new airline. Yesterday, United announced that the post-merger airline was approved by the FAA to run under one operating certificate. Previously every Continental flight also had a United flight number. Now there will only be United flights and pilots will refer to all flights as “United,” to air traffic control even if it is an old Continental route.
“I would like to thank the teams at United, Continental, the FAA, the Department of Transportation and the many regulatory authorities around the globe who put tremendous time and effort into our achieving a single operating certificate,” said United’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Smisek in a press release. “While we have much work ahead of us as we integrate these two great carriers, this is a significant milestone.”
Even though there is one operating certificate, passengers will still need to go to each individual airline’s website to book flights, change seats and check flight status. United is expecting to have only one system during the first quarter of 2012 and at that point, on the most part, Continental will cease to exist and the two airlines will function as one.
Boeing 737 MAX. Photo by Boeing.
BOEING TO BUILD THE 737MAX IN RENTON, WASHINGTON
Being based in Seattle, I was very excited to hear that Boeing will be building their next, next generation 737 MAX in Renton, WA (just south of Seattle). Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) have not always had the best relationship and it is nice to see that an agreement was reached. The union members still need to ratify the deal next week, but a four year contract and a $5000 holiday bonus should sweeten the deal. This agreement should also end the National Labor Relations Board lawsuit against Boeing for opening a 787 Dreamliner factory in South Carolina.
Previously, it would seem obvious that Boeing was to continue to build the 737 in Renton, but with the recent 787 factory being built in South Carolina, nothing was impossible. Boeing and the union conducted secret talks almost a year before the current contract was to expire and this agreement comes ten months before the old contract expires. This is great and a big round of applause for Boeing and IAM for making this happen.
Being the world’s largest airline has its benefits, but there are also going to be negatives. The larger and more complicated you are, the more that can go wrong. Then add in a merger to the mix and you are just asking for trouble.
United Airlines had a bit of a challenging week this last week and it raises some questions. Even though some mistakes were made, it was sad to see how much of the media grabbed on to the stories, even after the stories were already resolved. Let’s take a closer look at what happened:
UNITED CHANGES ON TWITTER
Previously, United and Continental had two separate Twitter accounts (@UnitedAirlines and @Continental). United had about 194,000 followers and Continental had about 144,000. Having 338,000 followers is quite impressive, but this is where things go wrong. Twitter told United that they can’t combine both accounts. It seems silly that Twitter wouldn’t budge, even for money, but I guess that is how it goes. That didn’t mean that United had to give up all their followers.
With Twitter you can change your account name and still keep your followers. So the question becomes, should the new United take the old United account or the Continental? Sure, alienating either group of followers isn’t the best idea, but neither is giving up 338k followers to start a brand new account — which is exactly what United did.
I really like the idea of United changing their Twitter handle to just “@United,” but they have had one heck of a time getting anyone to follow. Out of 338,000 followers, as of late Friday there are just short of 10,000.
Since the new “@United” handle has been used, it has mostly been interacting with customers who have had bad experiences. Sure, it is great to reach out to your Twitter followers to help them, but if someone just reads the Twitter feed, it looks like nothing goes right at the airline. When responding to a poorly placed ad (see below), they sent the exact same message to over 100 people. That is not the proper way to handle the situation. It is okay to post just one reply to everyone.
I think Delta Air Lines has a slick system with @Delta to keep positive @DeltaAssist to help travelers with issues and @DeltaNewsroom to interact with media. That way fans of the airline that are watching @Delta see positive and helpful information and those customers who have issues still get help by @DeltaAssist.
AD IN NEW YORK CITY
Honestly, I wouldn’t have even known about this ad, except for the fact that United was apologizing to hundreds of people about the ad via Twitter. Anyhow, it looks like United put up an ad that states by ground zero in New York City stating, “You’re going to like where we land.” Okay, maybe not the best call, but come on people. This was an outside ad agency that placed the ad. Do you really think United wants to be associated with what happened on 9/11? They made a mistake, they are correcting it, they are apologizing, now let’s all move on.
REINSTATING 9/11 FLIGHT NUMBERS
With the merger of United and Continental, a computer system assigned the old flight 93 and flight 175 to current Continental Airlines flights. Currently, all flights fly both as United and Continental, so it would appear that United flight 93 and 175, which were involved in 9/11, were flying again. It was an honest mistake that was unintentional.
This was not a group of employees sitting around and deciding to re-instate the old flight numbers. It was more disturbing how big this story got versus what actually happened. Even after the flight numbers were explained, I saw legitimate news sources still waving the “omg why would United do this?” blame flag. I ended up more disappointed in the media than I did with the airline on this one.
New Branding at Chicago
CUSTOMER DAY ONE
Say what? I wonder if many of you even know about this. On Wednesday United unveiled their new look and brand at their main hub at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD). United put up all new signs and there are no more tulips to be seen. Even though it is sad to see the tulips go, this was a big day for United, their employees (Continentals too) and even for the city of Chicago. Unfortunately this story got shoved under the rug due to all the other things going on this week.
CONCLUSION United might have dropped the ball a few times, but what company doesn’t? It just seems that airlines get unfair attention put on them when they do mess up and it keeps the idea that airlines are some evil company.