Inspector general report says FAA missed safety risks with Allegiant Air

Published: December 19, 2019 4:56 PM EST
Updated: December 19, 2019 6:59 PM EST

Thousands of people travel through Southwest Florida each day with Allegiant Air flights. But a new report shows the airline is dealing with the aftermath of multiple safety issues. And the people overseeing the fixes aren’t doing enough to protect air travelers.

Allegiant has dealt with various mechanical issues since 2011, including in-flight engine shutdowns, aborted takeoffs and unscheduled landings.

The Office of the Inspector General recent report found the FAA, which oversees operations, missed opportunities to limit safety risks in a timely manner.

MORE: Office of the Inspector General report on FAA’s oversight of Allegiant

Still, there are passengers who fly Allegiant who say they have never experienced any difficulties or worries during an Allegiant flight.

“Every experience that I’ve ever had has been good,” said Mindy Stenson from Canal Winchester, Ohio. “And that is just what keeps me coming back.”

At Punta Gorda Airport, passengers on Allegiant flights have experienced similar issues to those reported nationally.

“There was a loud rumbling, and something felt like it wasn’t going to come down all the way,” said Melissa Iannuzzi, describing her previous experience during an Allegiant flight.

The issues with Allegiant flights have gained national attention. In April 2018, when a 60 minutes investigation found the airline is 3-point-5 times more likely to have mechanical failures than other airlines.

“They all have that chance,” said Sharon Norris in North Port. “You just have to trust and have faith that you are not going to be one of the statistics.”

Safety risks recognized by the inspector general mainly happened on Allegiant’s MD-80 airplanes, which the airline retired in late 2018.

“Just never really thought about it because it was never a flight that happened to me or my family,” Norris said.

Allegiant tells us it continuously works to exceed all federal standards, with safety as a top priority.

Allegiant Air statement: Safety has always been — and will remain — at the heart of our operation, and fundamental to everything we do. We vehemently dispute any implications to the contrary. We continue to work with the FAA and other regulatory agencies to ensure we meet and exceed all Federal standards, and plan our future with complete commitment to vigilant monitoring and continuous improvement.

It is also important to note that this report primarily centers upon work with the FAA which occurred years ago, involving an aircraft type since retired from Allegiant’s fleet.

With the completion of a planned, multi-year transition to an all-Airbus fleet, and as the first US airline to adopt Airbus’ cutting-edge preventative maintenance technology platform, today we are an industry leader in reliability and service.

The inspector general wants the FAA to make improvements in nine areas, including developing better monitoring procedures and training modification. The FAA says it will work with the inspector general’s office on its recommendations

FAA statement: “The FAA has initiated compliance actions at Allegiant Air that have improved safety for the flying public, are generally consistent with FAA’s Compliance Program, and are in accordance with Safety Assurance System (SAS) policies. Nonetheless, the FAA continually strives to enhance the agency’s oversight posture and, and we will work with the OIG regarding its draft report recommendations.”

Allegiant is the eleventh largest passenger airline in the United States. More than 14 million people flew on its planes in 2018. 

Other passengers we spoke to say Allegiant’s issues are in the past and out of their control.

“It’s life, honey,” Milton Oliver said in Venice. “God will watch over you. You don’t have to worry.”