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United Airlines warns pilots after four safety incidents


(Reuters) — United Continental Holdings Inc. warned its pilots last month to double down on safety procedures after one flight was in danger of crashing and another landed with fewer fuel reserves than regulations require, the airline confirmed Wednesday.

The Chicago-based carrier cited four recent “safety events and near-misses” in a Jan. 9 bulletin to pilots, including an emergency in which pilots had to perform a pull-up maneuver to avoid smashing into the ground, United spokesman Charlie Hobart confirmed.

“We are open and direct with our pilots, as we are with all of our employees,” Mr. Hobart said. “The language that we used is strong, and that's because safety is our top priority. This enables us to recognize potential issues and adjust our actions to ensure the safety of customers.”

He added that the airline participates in all of the voluntary safety programs of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which could not immediately provide comment on the incidents.

The last fatal crash in the United States occurred in 2009 under the Continental name before that airline merged with United in 2010. However, the pilots in that flight were employed by regional operator Colgan Air. Mr. Hobart said the last fatal accident by United was in 1991, and the last one by Continental was in 1987.

He declined to discuss further details of the incidents, which were earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.