‘60 Minutes’ story on Allegiant Air raises questions over airline’s safety

More than 100 serious mechanical incidents were reported in the first 10 months of 2016 by Allegiant Air, raising questions about the performance of the airline’s fleet, according to CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

The incidents included mid-air engine failures, smoke and fumes in the cabin, rapid descents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted takeoffs, according to the report.

The airline had 60 unscheduled landings and 46 in-flight emergencies between January and the end of October 2016, an extremely high number, according to one expert.

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“I hate to make comparisons, but we’ve seen that before in airlines that are no longer with us that had experienced a number of accidents that killed a bunch of people,” said John Goglia, who has more than 40 years of experience in the aviation industry, including nine years as president appointee to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Goglia said he has encouraged his family, friends and himself not to fly Allegiant Air.

Some planes had recurring issues and others were returned to service before they were ready, according to the report.

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Last July, Allegiant Flight 533 scheduled to run between Cincinnati and Las Vegas was delayed before takeoff. Mercedes Weller, who was on the flight, paid $80 for a round-trip ticket. Weller said the plane was pushing away from the gate three hours behind schedule when the pilot made an announcement.

“He came on and said, ‘the mechanics have been working on this right engine. We apologize for that. We’ll get you up in the air as soon as possible.’ As soon as we started taxiing, everything was going okay. And then, it’s like, as soon as the wheels come up, the engine blew.”

The force popped open the cockpit doors, smoke filled the cabin and there was fire coming out of the engine.

In one weekend in July, Allegiant canceled or rescheduled 11 flights leaving Las Vegas for mechanical issues, according to the report.

In a statement, Allegiant Air said “All of us at Allegiant are proud of our strong safety record, as noted in the most current, comprehensive FAA audit. Safety is at the forefront of our minds and the core of our operations.”

Read the full 60 minutes report here.

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