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Is Allegiant a Safe Airline? Using Data to Review 60 Minutes’ Conclusions

Based on the information provided by the FAA, it is very easy to analyze the data collected by 60 Minutes to determine if there is some context lost. The investigation utilized the Scheduled Difficulty Reports (SDRs) filed by Allegiant and seven other airlines, according to their reporting. All SDRs are available to the public for all U.S. airlines, as well as general aviation aircraft, which allows us to look at all incidents, their severity, and exactly where Allegiant falls in the mix. This… ( More...

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sharon bias 6
The only thing that concerns me is that they do fly older planes and I'm not completely convinced they have enough planes to quickly replace one which has to go out of service. Not so much a safety issue as a "I don't want to camp in an airport" issue.
paul trubits 3
They flew out of KSBY for a few months(a post office size airport). One Sunday night, they had a mechanical issue and had to fly a replacement aircraft up from Florida. Everyone sat around for hours with nothing to do. The trade off of convenience and $$$ vs reliability ended their flights out of KSBY.
dnorthern 1
You do realize that prior to NWA’s acquisition by DAL they were flying DC9s that were last manufactured in 1982. This was as late as 2014 (The last DAL flight using a DC9)
Remember that the graphs used, wherever they came from, only show "Reported" incidents, and if there is an atmosphere at Allegiant that discourages reporting .... the airline could suddenly look very good.
ToddBaldwin3 7
Interesting analysis. It wouldn't be the first time a news source has cherry picked the data for sensationalism. Now, just to be fair, and to play devil's advocate (black hat), does the author have any connection to Allegiant? What is Who are they funded by. The analysis seemed to be a bit too good.
"What is Who are they funded by."

Why get worried over pesky facts. In the past 10 minutes I got about twenty bulletins about Bill Cosby...most of the public have long forgot any issues with any airplane...ever.
Foxtrot789 4
This is about the author of that article: "Courtney currently works for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft as Director of Sales for Leasing Markets. Also while at Bombardier, he led the airline analysis teams for North and Latin America until 2016. Prior to joining the Bombardier team in 2009, Courtney worked in Air Network Planning for DHL, and began his aviation career in 2003 when he joined Comair Airlines as a pilot flying the Bombardier CRJ700 regional jet. In that role, he was also responsible for industry and scope clause analysis as the local ALPA Strategic Analysis committee chairman. Courtney holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a Master of Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. A native of small town Indiana, he currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife, son, and daughter."
ToddBaldwin3 5
Yes, I did read his bio, I was curious. By training and avocation, I'm a scientist, and that makes me skeptical.
canuck44 6
Some of these "news" shows compete for sensationalism thinking back to the Food Lion meat "scandal" and the NBC exploding cars. Worse than cherry picking data is the manufacturing of results to prove a pre-determined agenda.
royr2 2
Just speaking from experience working on them as a previous fueler and a ramper at one station...they were always having problems, mx delays that would take hours (and in one case, 2 days) to fix. The MDs were beat up and in bad shape (as most are at DL and AA too), but overall they broke down the least for us. Now, the 57s while seemingly in better shape were the ones we always dreaded seeing. Those were the ones that would hog a gate for hours or days because something broke and it took days to ship the parts in on other airlines. At the time they didn't have many 320s yet so I can't speak on those. But overall, I would generally tell my family members to avoid flying them unless their schedules were flexible to unpredictable circumstances (LOL).
Rich Kaminski 2
Yep that sounds about right. A lot of companies like Southwest when they first got into the business and starting up used older aircraft that other companies had thrown away. primarily the 737 200 and 300's. They had an average life on them of close to 25 years but Southwest has gotten better at an average life at 12.4 years now. So they have moved out a lot of the junk. not saying new aircraft don't fail but they have less frequency of failure due to not as many rotations and tone on them. The old adage rings true that you get what you pay for.
michadm1 4
I have followed closely Allegiant since 2014, all their employee issues, aircraft maintenance issues. They are very fortunate there was no major disaster. My two issues, the story about Allegiant came out a year late and how the heck did the FAA give them a passing grade.
Rich Kaminski 3
Why the FAA gave them a passing grade is by me. Her are some more interesting FAA facts about Allegiant.

On Allegiant Air’s worst night last year, mechanical breakdowns forced the airline’s planes to make one unexpected landing after another.

One flight had to land in Mesa, Ariz., after the captain’s instrument panel started smoking. Another returned to Las Vegas when the tail compartment overheated. Another circled back to Mesa because one of its power generators started failing. Another diverted to Idaho Falls when a fuel pump malfunctioned.

Before the night was finished on June 25, 2015, five Allegiant flights had been interrupted in four hours, all because different planes had failed in midair.

The Federal Aviation Administration collected records on all of the incidents.

But it didn’t order a single corrective action.

They call The FAA the “tombstone agency,” and decried it as an unwieldy bureaucracy that was slow to crack down unless spurred by disaster.

Today, little has changed.

Again and again in the past 20 years, auditors for the U.S. Department of Transportation have chronicled the FAA’s struggles to police the airline industry, pointing to staffing problems and a failure to analyze key data.

The FAA’s dealings with Allegiant Air — a low-cost carrier run by a founder of ValuJet — are a case study in those struggles.
Rich Kaminski 2
About 300 pages of Federal Aviation Administration records for Allegiant show a pattern of safety problems that triggered a relatively large number of aborted takeoffs, emergency descents and emergency landings from Jan. 1, 2015, through this March. The Allegiant records were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Robert MacArthur, owner of Alternative Research Services, a consultancy that caters to short sellers — investors who benefit when company share prices drop.

Allegiant had about nine times as many serious incidents over that period as Delta Air Lines had with similar types of planes of similar vintage — even though Delta was flying about three times as many such planes, according to a Washington Post analysis of FAA documents relating to both companies.
Rich Kaminski 2
The average age of Allegiant’s MD-80 fleet is 26.49 years; recently added Airbus planes also are used, with an average age of 14.2 years.
I am not saying that flying older aircraft is not safe when they are properly maintained however anything with age is going to have structural fatigue that a younger aircraft might not have.

More not so good news is that:
Just over a year ago, Allegiant Air pilot Jason Kinzer was sitting in the cockpit of a 24-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft bound for Hagerstown, Md., having just taken off from St. Petersburg, Fla.

As the plane climbed through 2,500 feet, a cabin attendant alerted Kinzer to a strong burning smell. Alarmed, Kinzer turned Allegiant Air Flight 864 back toward the airport. Fire and rescue crews met the plane on the runway as smoke wafted from an engine. Kinzer told the 144 passengers to disembark. He then helped a flight attendant carry a paraplegic passenger to the exit.

It seemed to be model behavior. But Allegiant Air did not praise Kinzer. It fired him.

In a dismissal letter, the airline called the evacuation of the plane “unwarranted” and faulted Kinzer as not “striving to preserve the Company’s assets, aircraft, ground equipment, fuel and the personal time of our employees and customers.” Later, the company’s attorneys would call Kinzer’s account an “inaccurate and self-serving recitation of events.”
Rich Kaminski 3
Throughout 2015 -- a year that would see Allegiant Air planes break down at least 77 times in mid-flight --
the company’s leaders were adamant that nothing was amiss. They accused reporters of being on a witch
hunt or of acting as agents of a pilot union in the midst of a tense labor dispute.
It soon became clear that, to get past the blanket denials, the Times would have to learn once and for all
whether Allegiant was an outlier. There was just one problem. Nobody, not even the FAA, had ever before
done the kind of analysis needed to show that. Conventional wisdom held that it was impossible. The Times’
reporters went to work.
They used the Freedom of Information Act to gather thousands of pages of reports of airline mechanical
failures. Then they compared those with records of emergency landings kept by the private flight data
collection company FlightAware.
The process took months, but when it was finished, the reporters had their answer. Allegiant’s breakdown
record was far and away worse than any other major U.S. carrier. Nearly half of its 86 planes failed at least
once in midair in 2015. Faced with these facts, Allegiant’s leaders abruptly reversed course. On the eve of
publication, they asked for a meeting with reporters at the airline’s Las Vegas headquarters, where they made
a series of striking statements.
Allegiant CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr., who often attacked the Times coverage in 2015, acknowledged the
company had too many mechanical problems. Other executives said a company push for too-fast growth was
to blame.
“I can look at what we did, and it wasn't acceptable," Gallagher told the reporters. "I don't disagree with the
thrust of your numbers. … We want to be well-known as being reliable and on time, and obviously safe, and
that's an important part of our brand. And we're going to make sure we do those things. But if you stub your
toe, step up and own it and move on."
As a result of the Times’ persistence, the flying public now has more information when making decisions
about buying a plane ticket -- information that neither Allegiant nor the FAA was willing to give them before
the reporters started digging.
Also in the wake of the Times’ coverage, Allegiant Air has announced plans to retire its aging MD-80 series
jets, which were the planes most prone to mid-flight breakdowns. It has pledged to slow its marathon growth.
And it has put systems in place that it says will dramatically increase mechanical reliability.
michadm1 5
Absolutely correct and Allegiant should not have been allowed to fly till they got their act together.
Jamar Jackson 2
I would fly Allegiant. They follow the same rules as Delta or Alaska. Old planes burn more fuel and require maintenance just like an old 1988 Ford Taurus would. However they are still safe to ride in.
Billy Koskie 1
This reporting is a fundamental reason I do not get my news from any of the broadcast or cable news networks. None of them deserve to be trusted. Get the articles and interpret for yourself. The graph referenced did a better job explaining the information. CBS could have made an attempt at credibility to have shown the same graph and list all of the airlines. Cherrypicking data is a weak attempt at proving a point. It's like saying average without stating whether the average is mean, median or mode. All are averages but with very large numerical results.


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