Senator calls for FAA investigation of Allegiant Airlines safety record

Senator calls for FAA investigation of Allegiant Airlines safety record

It was always going to be an uncomfortable ride.

A day after "60 Minutes" aired a scathing report highlighting alleged safety shortcomings at Allegiant Air, passengers boarding the airline's flights were aware of the news. He explained since those incidents, Allegiant has made improvements.

A seven-month "60 Minutes" investigation into Allegiant Air,the Las Vegas-based ultra-low-cost carrier, found more than 100 serious incidents involving mechanical issues. The nighttime news program raised serious concerns about the company's track record, reporting that the airline suffered a high number of mid-flight breakdowns and unscheduled landings - about 100 serious incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration in the almost two-year period between January 2016 and the end of October.

He said he felt some of the problems reported come with the territory of flying for cheap. One case involved a former pilot who was sacked after making an emergency landing after smoke filled the cabin.

The airline has just 99 planes, yet experienced 25 engine failures or malfunctions in two years, and its planes are three and a half times more likely than those of other carriers to experience "serious in-flight mechanical failures", per the report.

If 60 Minutes had been interested in current information, they would have reported that today, according to just-released Department of Transportation data, Allegiant is a leader in reliability, with the second-lowest cancelation rate among all US airlines. Interestingly, none of the concerns allegedly expressed by Allegiant team members during the 60 Minutes episode were found to have been reported through any of these appropriate channels.

This is, apparently, in line with the FAA's new approach of working with the airlines, rather than fining them and holding them up to public scrutiny. That brings Allegiant's nonstop service to six cities out of Concord Regional Airport.

In the first quarter, Allegiant had 3,279,368 scheduled passengers, up from 2,845,480 in the first quarter of previous year, according to a press release issued April 5.

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Allegiant is now defending itself - calling the entire report "a misleading story".

So I asked Allegiant for its view.

For the lengthy piece, Allegiant provided a statement from Vice President of Operations, Eric Gust.

He said the program offered "a false narrative".

But it's the little gestures that, perhaps, make all the difference in the end.

Davis said the report used data from a time when Allegiant was experiencing "growing pains".

"The force of it was so hard that it- it popped open the cockpit doors", Mercedes Weller told 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft. They believe that this was to suggest nothing abnormal had happened at all. It also pointed to a Department of Transportation report claiming it had the second-lowest cancellation rate of any airline.

Allegiants aging fleet of MD-80s — which had an average age of 22 years old — were a major factor, as they require significant maintenance. For example, the show's star interviewee, John Goglia, is not an un-biased commentator; he is a paid expert working for a former Allegiant pilot who has sued Allegiant.

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