United Safety Management System

As we continue to grow our airline, our focus on safety is more important than ever. With tens of thousands of employees that are part of the United family, we remain proactive in reducing risks and achieving the highest level of safety performance for our customers and our employees.

Our safety management system

The foundation on which we stand is based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, International Civil Aviation Organization standards, and the principles of our Safety Management System (SMS) - our comprehensive, formalized approach to managing safety.

We have reshaped and refocused how we approach safety and would describe the work as transformative. Our use of data and trend analysis allows us to be agile in our ability to identify and mitigate safety risks.

United’s SMS ensures we’re committed to upholding regulatory compliance safety standards, identifying hazards, elevating corrective actions, collaborating across divisions, and ensuring the most effective mitigations are in place.

Infrastructure, technology, tools and training

Not only do we invest in infrastructure, technology and tools – we invest in the training and development of our employees to ensure proficiency in their roles. We have implemented a mentoring program for flight attendants to support them in the operation once they have completed training in our new, state-of-the-art facility in Houston. We are Introducing virtual reality training for our airport operations employees and creating more hands-on training opportunities with our ramp consistency teams.

Our technical operation teams have launched an in-house apprenticeship program that accelerates the path toward becoming an aircraft maintenance technician. And, similarly, our dispatch operations have developed a program to onboard flight dispatchers. All of these initiatives are set up to increase our pool of talented and qualified employees.

Components of our Safety Management System

The SMS is designed around predictive, proactive and reactive assessment and action and built upon four key components:

United Safety Management System, comprised of:

  1. Safety policy
  2. Safety risk management
  3. Safety assurance
  4. Safety promotion

1. Safety policy

  • Management commitment, involvement and advocacy
  • Clear roles, responsibilities and relationships
  • Procedures and controls

As part of our commitment to safety and as a requirement of the SMS Part 5 Rule, United develops key safety objectives that are carefully curated by each operating team to reduce the Company's safety risks. Objectives include items such as reducing our procedural errors within all operational teams, integrating of our data into an industry tracking data exchange, increasing our hazard awareness at our gates.

2. Safety risk management

  • System description and task analysis
  • Threat and hazard identification
  • Risk analysis and assessment; controlling risk

As we continue to grow our company, we are proactively identifying areas of risk and expanding where necessary to ensure our operation continues to be efficient. Key areas of focus: adding new stations and maintenance facilities, analyzing equipment requirements to support our new aircraft, analyzing gate area and baggage room impacts.

3. Safety assurance

  • Performance monitoring and measurement
  • Data acquisition process
  • Analysis and assessment
  • Management of change
  • Continuous improvement

United has five operational-specific safety reporting programs. All programs are voluntary and non-punitive, as we believe in a just culture aimed at identifying and resolving safety concerns and hazards that could result in injuries, damages and accidents. These programs are an industry best practice and supported by FAA. We strive to foster an environment where employees feel encouraged and comfortable reporting safety concerns and errors as this ultimately improves the overall safety at our company. We recently rolled out best in class app, that enables every employee to report safety incidents and concerns from a work device or personal device which has resulted in an overall increase in safety reporting, thereby increasing insight into safety risks in our operation.

4. Safety promotion

  • Safety culture
  • Competencies and training
  • Communication and awareness

In 2022, we launched a full safety campaign – No Small Roles in Safety. The meaning behind this framework is simple - when one team member does the smallest of actions – along with 90,000 team members (and growing) - it adds up to something big! Every day, our employees execute on very critical standard operating procedures. But also, it’s emphasized that the seemingly little, but important things, from ensuring the aisles are clear of debris, making sure chocks and cones are in good condition requires attention too. Collectively, all these things and so much more result in employees and customers getting to where they’re supposed to be safely and on-time. We believe when it comes to safety, everything we do matters - including looking out for each other. We strive to build a culture that builds people.