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American Airlines Pilots Union Warns of ‘Significant Spike’ in Safety, Maintenance Issues 

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The Allied Pilots Association (APA), the union for American Airlines pilots, issued a recent alert to its members warning that the group “has been tracking a significant spike in safety and maintenance-related problems in our operation.”

Problematic trends include tools left in wheel wells, an increasing number of collisions between aircrafts being towed, improperly closed out maintenance actions with repeat writeups, pressure to return aircrafts to service to maintain on-time performance due to a lack of spares and increased intervals between routine aircraft inspections, according to the membership update posted on the union’s website on April 13.

The alert comes as airplane manufacturer Boeing and several U.S. airlines are under scrutiny following multiple safety incidents this year. 

In January, a door plug blew off mid-air on an Alaska Airlines flight. Federal officials said it’s very fortunate no one was seriously injured or killed, but the incident prompted lawsuits and ongoing investigations. United Airlines has also experienced a string of incidents since the start of the year, including a tire falling off a plane on a flight leaving San Francisco.

Amid the turmoil, a Boeing whistleblower is expected to testify before a Senate subcommittee Wednesday alleging safety concerns at the manufacturer, which the company denies.

The APA said in its statement that 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.”

In response to APA’s statement and other questions, an American Airlines spokesperson tells TIME in an email: “Safety at any airline is a shared mission and it’s especially true at American. Our robust safety program is guided by our industry-leading safety management system. It includes a multitude of collaborative programs—and regular touchpoints—with the FAA and all our unions, including APA, to further bolster our strong safety record and enhance our ever-evolving safety culture.” American Airlines did not answer TIME’s question to confirm or deny an increase in safety incidents.

TIME reached out to APA for more details.

The union represents 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, according to its website. In an update posted online on April 15, union president Ed Sicher wrote that the union had met with senior management earlier this 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.”

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