Wing of United Jet Hit Another Plane After Workers Misjudged Gap: WSJ

  • A United jet hit another plane when two inexperienced workers were moving the aircraft, per The WSJ.
  • The ramp workers miscalculated the gap between the planes, a union leader told The Journal.
  • Airlines are hiring workers to fill the staff shortage but many lack experience, the report said.

The wing of a United Airline plane collided with another one of the company’s aircraft after inexperienced ramp workers misjudged the distance between the jets, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Michael Klemm, head of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), which represents ramp workers at United, told The Journal the incident happened in June at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The ramp workers were operating a tow tug to push back the United plane, but one of the winglets — the vertical part at the end of a wing — clipped another jet’s horizontal stabilizer on the tail, he told the newspaper.

The plane that was struck was parked at a nearby gate, Klemm added.

The two ramp workers moving the plane lacked experience in the job, he told The Journal. “They made a mistake, but it’s not a situation they should have been in alone.”

A spokesperson for United told the publication it had now updated the process of scheduling shifts to ensure that newly hired workers are supported after training and have experienced employees overseeing them. The airline has also given supervisors more details about workers’ experience.

United and the IAMAW didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of US office hours.

It comes at a time when the airline industry is scrambling to recruit more workers to fill the gaps in a depleted workforce after letting many go during pandemic. This has resulted in some hires lacking sufficient experience.

Airline executives and union officials have said new staff members aren’t as good as those who left during the pandemic, The Journal reported. They said some processes, including boarding passengers, sorting luggage, and customer service, have become less straightforward in recent months, it added.

Staffing issues hav led to passengers suffering flight cancellations and delays, lost luggage, being stranded in airports after crews timed out, and being booked on different flights home.

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