United Temporarily Grounds 757s Over Safety Concerns

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United Airlines temporarily grounded its fleet of 96 Boeing 757 airplanes late Tuesday after discovering required safety checks had not been performed.

The unusual grounding caused cancellations and delays yesterday. But United-Continental spokesman Mike Trevino tells AOL Travel News there will be little impact today.

"No cancellations. There may be minimal delays. We certainly apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," Trevino says. "Customers can check united.com to determine whether there is any delay planned for their flight today, but we expect to run full operations."

Trevino says 15 flights were canceled yesterday, with an undetermined number delayed. He says each maintenance check takes about 60 to 90 minutes.

United made the move voluntarily, Trevino says, after discovering operational checks had not been conducted on updated air-data computers. The computers – two on each plane -- measure air pressure, temperature and other atmospheric conditions to determine speed and altitude.

The checks are required under a 2004 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) directive.

"We determined yesterday that further followups were needed and implemented them yesterday. Checks were done following the modifications, but they didn't go through the complete checklist, basically," Trevino says.

Flight cancellations at Chicago's O'Hare airport caught passengers by surprise yesterday, though United was able to book many passengers on other United and Continental flights.

"It's very nerve-racking on the parents. I'm a nervous wreck already having a daughter going to New Zealand, and now the stuff with the planes," passenger Debbie Callaghan told Chicago's ABC7.

In New York, some passengers trying to leave LaGuardia Airport were sent to hotels, reports CBS New York.

"They instructed us that something was wrong with the airplane and that we'd be off shortly. An hour later they came back and said, it'll just be another hour. Meanwhile, every other flight that we possibly could have got on left," passenger Will McCloud tells the TV outlet. "We're out $400 on ski tickets."

United said it was not aware of any problems or incidents caused by the air-data computers.

But there have been crashes involving faulty speed readings on 757s including a 1996 crash of a Birgenair jet off the Dominican Republic in which 189 people died.

The last major grounding of a U.S. carrier's fleet was in 2008, when American Airlines took its MD-80 jets out of service to repair electrical wiring.

(This story was updated at 9 a.m.)

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