Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on April 06, 2024
United Planes Collide at SFO: Winglet to Wing Incident Under FAA Investigation Amid Recent Airline MishapsSource: Russss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A United Airlines jet, arriving from Reno, found itself in entangled with another of the airline’s planes Thursday night when its winglet clipped the wing of a neighboring aircraft during an attempt to park, United has confirmed. The collision at San Francisco International Airport occurred as the Airbus 320, United Flight 2181, was maneuvering into Gate F3 around 10:30 pm, according to a report by SFist. The gate, known for its tight fit due to having two parking spots, left little margin for error and ultimately linked the two planes together temporarily, necessitating intervention by emergency teams to separate them.

Passengers aboard the implicated flight reportedly experienced a jolt as the aircraft came to an abrupt halt following the clip, though everyone disembarked normally with no injuries reported this is according to statements obtained by SFist. The precise extent of damage to both aircrafts is still unclear, though they will be subjected to inspections and repairs, as per usual protocol in such incidents. It's worth noting that this incident follows a series of troubling events for United Airlines involving its aircraft at SFO.

Retired airline pilot Doug Rice touched on the potential risks posed by the configuration of the gate in question during an interview with NBC Bay Area, suggesting that the issue might stem from a "training or communication issue" with United's ground personnel. "There's no question in my mind that a number of the incidents that have occurred have been what we would call 'SFO-centric,'" Rice said, hinting at a pattern of issues at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to take these factors into account during their investigation.

In recent weeks, United has been plagued with an uptick in incidents, including a flight from Frankfurt to SFO that had to turn around due to a lavatory mishap, and more seriously an Osaka-bound flight losing a tire during takeoff which not only fell onto a parked car but forced the aircraft to divert to Los Angeles and another flight's emergency landing in Denver was caused by an engine problem, according to a statement obtained by SFist. Last month also saw multiple SFO-departing United flights suffer hydraulic leaks, with one visibly spilling hydraulic fluid as it ascended into the skies.