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Pilot union alleges ‘significant spike’ in safety issues on American Airlines flights

Delta Air Lines Bombardier Boeing 757-200 aircraft as seen arriving, on final approach for landing in New York JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport. The B757 narrow body airplane was flying previously for TWA Trans World Airlines and AA American Airlines. The registration the Boing 757 plane is N713TW and is powered by 2x PW jet engines. Delta Airlines is the second-largest in the world, member of SkyTeam aviation alliance with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. NY, USA on 2nd February 2020. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(CNN) — The union representing pilots at American Airlines says it is seeing a “significant spike” in safety issues on flights.

The Allied Pilots Association is warning members of “problematic trends,” including tools being left in aircraft wheel wells, collisions involving planes being towed on the ground, and “pressure to return aircraft to line service to maintain on-time performance.”

The new message comes as the spotlight is on commercial flights in the US and abroad following the January 5 door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9. There were roughly a dozen incidents on United Airlines flights last month alone, according to a CNN analysis, which prompted CEO Scott Kirby to send a safety message to customers.

“While United Airlines is currently under public and government scrutiny, it could just as easily be American Airlines,” said the message from the union’s safety committee, urging members to report problems and to resist being rushed or intimidated.

“As the last link in the safety chain, our passengers and crew depend on us to be the strongest link in that chain,” the message said.

American Airlines insisted in a statement that safety is its top priority, saying that “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,” the company added.