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Allegiant Air flight declares emergency in Phoenix after engine failure

Passenger aircraft with Allegiant Air's fleet are parked on the tarmac at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. An Allegiant flight made an emergency landing Thursday in Phoenix after experiencing engine failure.

Passenger aircraft with Allegiant Air's fleet are parked on the tarmac at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. An Allegiant flight made an emergency landing Thursday in Phoenix after experiencing engine failure.
Published Apr. 29, 2016

An Allegiant Air flight landing in Arizona made an emergency landing Thursday after an engine failure.

The failure of the No. 2 engine on Flight 175 occurred immediately after the pilots aborted a landing due to a gust of wind and as they powered up both engines to gain altitude for a "go-around," according to an Allegiant memo on the incident and a recording of air traffic control communications.

The failure occurred at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on a flight that originated from Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco, Wash. The plane, which landed safety at about 3 p.m., carried 131 passengers and six crew members.

The Allegiant memo did not say what the plane's altitude was when the decision to abort the landing was made. But the aircraft was over the runway at relatively low altitude, ATC recordings indicate.

The FAA said it is investigating the incident. Allegiant officials did not respond to a request for comment.

"No immediate corrective action to policy, procedure or training were found to be needed," the Allegiant memo said. "All crew members performed their duties as trained."

Pam Ronstadt, 49, a Tuscon, Ariz., resident and yoga instructor returning from a trip visiting family, said it appeared the pilots struggled to gain altitude after the engine failure, though she acknowledged she has no expert knowledge about aviation.

"It felt like the pilots had to work awfully hard to bring us down for a landing," she said. On the go-around she said the pilots seemed to struggle to gain altitude and "the plane was definitely really low."

She said passengers broke out in applause after the aircraft landed. Then a flight attendant, she said, got on the public address system and said, "Well, we made it."

Said Ronstadt, "That was kind of funny and not funny, too."

The incident comes as Allegiant is under increased scrutiny by the FAA, which is conducting a detailed, 90-day inspection of the airline. The survey is normally done for all commercial carriers every five years. But the FAA said it moved up Allegiant's inspection by about two years because of several incidents related to safety.

Previous coverage: FAA confirms it is reviewing Allegiant Air operations

In recent weeks, Allegiant leaders have gone further than they ever have in acknowledging they are taking steps to improve the safety and reliability of their aircraft, which are among the oldest in the U.S. airline industry.

After a series of emergency landings at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport last year, Allegiant replaced its local management team and vowed to hire five mechanics to handle maintenance issues in the area, the airline's CEO, Maurice Gallagher Jr., said last week to local politicos during an event sponsored by state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Previous coverage: Allegiant Air CEO acknowledges 'bad summer,' says changes will help

Allegiant is one of the nation's fastest-growing airlines and is headquartered in Las Vegas. It carried about 95 percent of the St. Pete-Clearwater airport's record 1.6 million passengers in 2015.

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.