The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has clarified that it has not approved United for fleet and route expansions, despite the airline claiming that the regulator had allowed it to begin restarting the activities. 

A memo shared by United’s leadership stated that the FAA had allowed it to “begin the process of restarting our certification activities” amid its evaluation of the airline’s compliance with safety regulations that began in March. 

However, a subsequent statement from the FAA said: “The FAA has not approved any expansion of United Airlines‘ routes or fleets. 

“The Certificate Holder Evaluation Program that the FAA is conducting for United is ongoing and safety will determine the timeline for completing it.” 

The regulator’s review of United’s activities began after a series of high-profile incidents, including 16 reported to the FAA in March such as missing panels and tires falling off aircraft.

The airline subsequently said it had been forced to delay the launch of new routes and slowdown fleet expansions as the regulator conducted its review, but the memo published last week had been reported as a notable step forward. 

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However, amid the confusion between the two statements, it’s possible that United’s memo had simply been misinterpreted as it also advised that the FAA’s staff would continue to be present at its operations as it reviewed “work processes, manuals and facilities.” 

Despite this, United has been declining to elaborate on the issue and the FAA told Airport Technology that it would provide an update, but it had not been sent at time of publication.

United’s safety issues were largely connected with Boeing’s own ongoing safety and quality control issues, which the FAA is also continuing to monitor, with 737 MAX production slowed as a result.