ST. PETERSBURG — A Tampa Bay Times investigation in 2016 — which included a first-of-its kind analysis of federal aviation records — found that Allegiant Air’s planes are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines.
Findings from that investigation were reiterated during a segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes, in which the network exposed "disturbing questions" surrounding the budget airline. Among those are "an alarming number of aborted takeoffs, cabin pressure loss, emergency descents, and unscheduled landings."
The 60 Minutes probe referenced the Times investigation, in which it found:
• Forty-two of Allegiant’s 86 planes broke down in mid-flight at least once in 2015. Among them were 15 forced to land by failing engines, nine by overheating tail compartments and six by smoke or the smell of something burning.
• After certain systems on Allegiant planes fail, the company repairs them and puts the planes back in service, only to see the same systems fail again. Eighteen times last year, key parts such as engines, sensors and electronics failed once in flight, got checked out, and then failed again, causing another unexpected landing.
• Allegiant’s jets are, on average, 22 years old. The average age of planes flown by other carriers is 12. Experts say planes as old as Allegiant’s require the most rigorous maintenance in the industry. But Allegiant doesn’t staff its own mechanics at 107 of the 118 airports it flies to.
• Allegiant relies most heavily on McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, an aging model retired by all but two other major U.S. carriers. The company’s MD-80s fail twice as often as those operated by American Airlines and three times as often as those flown by Delta.
Allegiant recently replaced its entire fleet of aircraft at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport with Airbus models. It is the main carrier at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport.
The network’s investigation prompted John Goglia, a former presidential appointee to the National Transportation Safety Board, to tell 60 Minutes that he has "encouraged my family, my friends and myself not to fly on Allegiant."
Shares of parent company Allegiant Travel Co. are plunging 13 percent before the opening bell on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Read the transcript from the 60 Minutes segment, and watch below:
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