Report Raises Safety Questions About Allegiant Air

'60 Minutes' reports on maintenance issues, mid-air breakdowns
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2018 11:32 AM CDT
Allegiant Air Had More Than 100 Big Problems in 2 Years
In this May 9, 2013, file photo, two Allegiant Air jets taxi at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/David Becker, File)

In the summer of 2015, Allegiant Air had a number of in-flight breakdowns—on one day in particular, there were five such problems. Between the beginning of 2016 and the end of October 2017, a 60 Minutes investigation uncovered more than 100 serious mechanical incidents the airline experienced: from hydraulic leaks and air pressure loss in the cabin to rapid descents, aborted takeoffs, and more—including 60 unscheduled landings. 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. But Allegiant Air, a budget carrier based in Las Vegas, is one of the most profitable airlines in the US, even if most customers are unaware of those problems.

A former member of the National Transportation Safety Board says he won't fly the airline and encourages his family and friends not to fly it, either. The aviation experts 60 Minutes spoke to during its 7-month investigation believe the problems stem from Allegiant's ultra-low-cost fares; in order to keep them so affordable, the airline must keep its own costs down—and keep its planes flying as long as possible. Almost 30% of its planes are McDonnell-Douglas MD-80s, which are old and difficult to find parts for. Those planes, nearly all of which were bought secondhand from foreign airlines, are responsible for most of the problems the investigation uncovered. Some also fault the FAA for being too lax in its oversight of the airline. Allegiant is calling the story a "false narrative," while the AP reports shares of its parent company were down in early trading. See CBS News for more. (More Allegiant Airlines stories.)

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