United Airlines Flight Returns to San Francisco Airport After Bird Strike amid Series of Safety Incidents

The incident comes just days after the airline said the FAA was increasing oversight of the company

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of a United Airlines flight


Stock image of a United Airlines flight

A United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Denver was forced to return to its point of origin on Saturday after a bird strike.

United Airlines Flight 1003 was on its way to Denver International Airport when there was a reported bird strike, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said. The Boeing 737 returned safely to San Francisco International Airport at around 6 a.m.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

<p>Gary Hershorn/Getty</p> United Airlines flight

Gary Hershorn/Getty

United Airlines flight

A United spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE that Flight 1003 returned to San Francisco after a bird strike. The flight changed planes and continued to its destination, the airline said.

This was the latest incident involving a United Airlines flight in recent weeks. On March 16, a United flight from San Francisco to Oregon landed safely with a panel missing. On March 8, a United flight from San Francisco to Mexico was diverted to Los Angeles due to a hydraulics issue.

In response, United CEO Scott Kirby issued a statement to customers on March 18, writing that safety is “our highest priority and is at the center of everything we do.”

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“Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, our airline has experienced a number of incidents that are reminders of the importance of safety,” Kirby continued. “While they are all unrelated, I want you to know that these incidents have our attention and have sharpened our focus.”

United is “reviewing the details of each case to understand what happened and using those insights to inform our safety training and procedures across all employee groups,” Kirby continued. “This is in addition to some changes that were already planned, including an extra day of in-person training for all pilots starting in May and a centralized training curriculum for our new-hire maintenance technicians. We're also dedicating more resources to supplier network management.”

On Friday, United Airlines vice president of corporate safety, Sasha Johnson, said the FAA was increasing oversight of the airline after the recent incidents, reports the Associated Press.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images United Airlines flights
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images United Airlines flights

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“Over the next several weeks, we will begin to see more of an FAA presence in our operation as they begin to review some of our work processes, manuals and facilities,” Johnson wrote in a note to employees. “We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.”

In its statement, the FAA said it “routinely monitors all aspects of an airline’s operation,” adding that its oversight “focuses on an airline’s compliance with applicable regulations; ability to identify hazards, assess and mitigate risk; and effectively manage safety,” per the AP.

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On Monday, Boeing announced its CEO, Dave Calhoun, was stepping down at the end of 2024, following incidents involving the company's aircraft. In January, a Boeing 737-9 aircraft's door blew out mid-air during an Alaska Airlines flight to Ontario, California.

"President and CEO Dave Calhoun today announced his decision to step down as CEO at the end of 2024, and he will continue to lead Boeing through the year to complete the critical work underway to stabilize and position the company for the future," the manufacturer said in a statement.

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