Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "United Airlines" ...

  • Unsafe Skies

    Breakdown in quality control and supervision of outsource maintenance work at a major airline puts public at risk of catastrophic accidents. A former United Airlines mechanic who was fired from his job told KCBS he first became suspicious after discovering from company computer records that a third-party contractor had neglected to perform required maintenance on United's entire fleet of 727's in 2000. By that time, the planes had already been up in the air for four months and the same contractor was allowed to continue servicing United planes. Furthermore, the system of quality control and oversight designed to insure adequate maintenance at United's outsource facilities had broken down. It was secretaries and not the qualified mechanics who were signing off on a vast array of maintenance jobs at repair shops.
  • Cost Cutting Costs Airlines Safety

    The report investigated shoddy maintenance on a major U.S. air carrier as a result of cost cutting. CBS News was able to find internal documents and talk to whistle blower mechanics proving that United Airlines failed to do the required maintenance of its fleet and failed to use licensed mechanics as required by the FAA. Examples in this report include: secretaries signing work papers that needed certified mechanic's signatures; failed equipment shined up and reinstalled in planes without being repaired; and letters pressuring mechanics to ignore safety problems.
  • Pilot shortage siphons experienced instructors from flight schools

    This story analyzes the fact American air carriers that operate internationally are taking away experienced pilots from both flight schools' instructor positions and regional airlines. The consequence of this trend is new pilots have to learn from unexperienced teachers. McCartney says this raises "questions about the quality of America's future pilots." The story adds the FAA was "looking into the matter." The fact big international airlines lure experienced pilots draws regional and small to hire people who sometimes can't meet the traditional requirements, such as having 20/20 vision without glasses. So these companies lower those requirements. Despite the concern raised, McCartney says "there isn't any evidence that possible lack of experience has posed any safety problems at either major or regional airlines.
  • Slam and Jam

    The Atlantic Monthly reports on the nation's air-traffic-control system. "For all the reports of equipment failures and "close calls" and controller burnout, the nation's air-traffic control system is in fact far less precarious, in terms of safety, than people imagine it to be. The real threat to the system's integrity has as yet received little attention.... Renegade slowdowns deliver a clear threat within the agency, yet a threat so technical that it remains invisible to the outside world." The story finds that "many of the public concerns about air-traffic control -- that the equipment is dangerously old, that safety is compromised, that poorly monitored aircraft threaten to collide in midair -- are largely unwarranted."
  • Pull Up!: United 747's Near Miss Sparks a Widespread Review of Pilot Skills

    The Wall Street Journal reports on many pilots' lack of basic training, resulting in poor flying skills. The story describes a incident with an United Airlines jumbo jet with 307 passengers and crew, which barely missed apartments and houses in San Francisco before safely returning to the airport. The incident was publicly disclosed much later, but there are other "close calls" that remain undisclosed.
  • The Zombie: No. 19603 Still Flies After 27 Years' Service To a Number of Airlines

    The Wall Street Journal reports on the extraordinary life expectancy of planes model Boeing 737. As for many years the industry has trained pilots ways to fly to keep planes running longer, this has caused for old planes to remain in service and accumulate. The story finds that, in the long run, "a jet surplus undermines airline stability" and leads to ticket pricing wars.
  • Airport Security

    Off a tip from a United Airlines employee, KRON-TV's investigative team began examining airport security at the largest terminal at San Francisco International Airport, the United terminal. Using hidden cameras, KRON was able to document major flaws in the terminal's security system, where access to restricted areas, the airfield, and passengers baggage was lax in certain places. A insider from United provided the majority of information on the security problems, despite the threat of prosecution from the FAA and United.
  • The Real Story of Flight 93

    Newsweek depicts the circumstances preceding the crash of United Flight 93 near Pittsburgh on September 11. The story tells how "the passengers and crew revolted against the hijackers," and reveals the content of recordings from the Flight's cockpit. The reporters find evidence that "the passengers did in fact retake control of the plane's cabin and were on the verge of breaking into the cockpit, when the panicked hijackers forced the plane to crash." Newsweek's investigation refutes the conspiracy theory that the flight had been shot down by the U.S. military forces.
  • Airport security: Years of inaction left flawed system to fail

    A Kansas City Star investigative packet examines lapses in aviation security, which allowed for the Sept. 11 terrorist attack to occur. Airlines have always fought against draft legislation for raising minimum security standards, the Star reports, in order to keep their attractiveness to customers and profit margins. One of the stories reveals that airlines have regularly sent congressmen on vacation and 'educational' trips for free, in exchange for favorable legislation. Despite constant warnings by the General Accounting Office, not only the Congress, but also the FAA failed to enforce rules to tighten airport security. Some of the findings are that screeners sometimes turned out to be felons, and bags were not scanned for bombs. The investigation focuses on problems detected specifically at the Kansas City International Airport, the nation's 35th busiest airport.
  • Painted Black

    The New Republic portrays Robert Johnson, "the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), whose family stood to gain millions if Bush succeeded." The story focuses on how Johnson "played the race card" in political games, where his own business interests were at stake. The analysis reveals that Johnson gathered support by major black leaders to achieve impact on three major issues - demanding an end to the estate tax, transforming the Social Security into a system with individual investment accounts, and encouraging the merger between United Airlines and US Airways. The author concludes that "Bushism and Johnsonism are made for each other; their nascent alliance represents a historic synthesis of the racial separatism of the left and the libertarianism of the right."