News investigation questions Allegiant Airlines safety, airline battles back

An Allegiant Airlines flight from Bellingham, Wash., to Las Vegas last October that was met by fire trucks upon landing has Port Alberni paper-mill employee Gary Check thinking twice about flying the low-cost carrier again.

“The captain came on and said some smoke was spotted (when the landing gear came down) and as a precaution we were being met by the fire department,” said Check on Monday.

After that and comparing experiences with other passengers, “I’m saying, ‘Yeah, maybe it’s time to pay a little more and go with another carrier,’ ” he said.

Check was among readers who commented on a news story shared by Postmedia News online that followed up on a probe by the CBS program 60 Minutes broadcast Sunday night that raised serious questions about Allegiance’s safety record.

Allegiance, however, is fighting back, countering that the 60 Minutes segment told a “false narrative” about the airline’s record with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to a statement issued by Eric Gust, its vice-president of operations.

Safety experts say the numbers tell another story. There have been far too many aborted takeoffs, inflight mechanical problems and emergency landings involving Allegiant planes in recent years.

The 60 Minutes segment reported that Allegiant experienced more than 100 serious mechanical incidents on flights between January 2016 and October 2017.

“The number of inflight incidents that Allegiant has had speaks volumes, it is simply unacceptable,” Alan Price, a former chief pilot for Delta Air Lines, told The Associated Press.

Allegiant’s record of breakdowns appears related partly to the age of its fleet, particularly its MD-80 planes, which are nearly 28 years old on average and require more maintenance than newer planes. The airline plans to retire all its MD-80s by the end of this year.

CBS said that FAA records it received by filing a Freedom of Information Act …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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