“The airline is cutting corners on crucial FAA recommended safety programs.” — Allegiant Airlines Pilots Union in a letter to company shareholders
As a regional airline traveler, this is not something that you want to see. The pilots union for Allegiant Airlines, a regional airline that hubs in Las Vegas, Phoenix and several airports in Florida, has expressed complaints to the airline about mechanical issues with their planes. Specifically, the airline isn’t maintaining them properly, putting lives in danger, according to the Allegiant Airlines Pilots Union.
According to a report issued by the Allegiant Airlines Pilots Union, there were at least 65 reported incidents between September 2014 and March 2015 in which Allegiant planes were diverted or forced to return to the gate as a result of mechanical issues or problems with an engine. That includes four instances where pilots say the engines shut down in the middle of a flight.
Scary stuff. But it gets worse…
Last week, an Allegiant plane was forced to make an emergency return landing at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport after smoke was reported in the plane. All of those onboard were forced to evacuate using the emergency slides. Sources say at least four people suffered injuries in the ordeal.
In a separate incident last Friday, Allegiant Air passengers in Boise, Idaho reported smelling fuel and smoke in the cabin. Passengers on that flight were forced to self evacuate onto the wing of the plane.
According to ABC 5, the planes in Allegiant’s fleet are on average 22 years old. Roughly 75 percent of those planes are MD-80’s that have been in service for, on average, 24 years.
Another major issue mentioned in the report lies with the company’s mechanics-the average seniority for Allegiant Airlines mechanics is four years on the job, and over half of the all mechanics at the airline have less than four years of experience. Might the aging fleet coupled with lack of experienced mechanics have something to do with all these in-flight incidents?
Put simply, Allegiant Airlines and others like it that try to cut corners in the safety department needlessly put the lives of their passengers at risk. With 65 incidents reported over a seven month span, it is imperative that the airline make safety a much greater priority.