FAA To Take A Long Look At Allegiant
Allegiant Air, which has been under fire over its maintenance issues – including from its own pilots – is again facing increased scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration over its latest problem.
“The FAA intensified its focus on the carrier’s flight operations and aircraft maintenance programs,” the Federal Aviation Administration told Bloomberg News in the wake of Bloomberg’s report on a serious mishap following a flight in August.
Allegiant had to abort a takeoff from Las Vegas that month, and it was later discovered that a bolt in the tail had come loose. Allegiant said it checked all of its MD-80 aircraft in the aftermath of the incident and found no further problems. But according to company logs obtained by Bloomberg, it wasn’t a one-time incident – two other jets had the same issue.
The bolts in question help stabilize the tail.
“This is a primary flight control on the airplane. Anything less than perfect work on this system can have catastrophic results,” John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, told Bloomberg. He added that the multiple instances of unsecured bolts and their locations on the aircraft “should result in a focused FAA audit.”
“Any failure to properly secure any part of a flight control is a major problem,” said Goglia. “More than one occurrence clearly indicates a maintenance organization that is not functioning properly.”
Allegiant responded: “While we respect the credentials of Mr. Goglia, he does not have any specific knowledge about our company or the details of our operation.”
Allegiant company AAR Aircraft Services does the repair work on the airline’s jets.
“Since hearing of the Aug. 17 incident, AAR has been working with Allegiant and the FAA to investigate,” AAR spokeswoman Kathleen Cantillon told Bloomberg via e-mail. “AAR has a 60-year history and culture of safety and compliance.”
Allegiant’s pilots union, which is negotiating a new contract, has publically called out the carrier for its numerous maintenance issues. Earlier this month, Allegiant Air pilots asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to be released from mediated negotiations with the airline in the wake of its nearly three-year dispute with the company over its contract.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division Director David Bourne personally delivered the request to the NMB. He also advised the NMB that Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa has pledged his and the International Union’s full support of the pilots’ request.
Hoffa, son of former legendary union leader James R. Hoffa, who mysteriously disappeared under dubious circumstances in 1975, made mention of Allegiant’s problems.
“Rather than work with pilots to strengthen the airline, Allegiant is wasting money and resources paying outside consultants to maintain a flawed operation that marginalizes employees, customers and ignores safety concerns,” Hoffa said in a statement. “For an airline facing countless avoidable mechanical failures, Allegiant would be better suited to invest that money in its workforce to ensure the retention of its pilots and the safety of all its workers and customers.”
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