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Wyden Calls On FAA To Scrutinize Allegiant Air's Safety Performance

An Allegiant Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
An Allegiant Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Citing a “60 Minutes” report, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is callingon the FAA to review Allegiant Air’s safety record. The budget airline serves many airports, including Medford and Eugene. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

An Allegiant Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Credit gtarde / Flickr.com
An Allegiant Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

The “60 Minutes” report paints a turbulent picture of an airline with a high rate of safety incidents...

“Between January 1 st 2016 and the end of last October, we found more than 100 serious mechanical incidents, including mid-air engine failures, smoke and fumes in the cabin, rapid descent…" says reporter Steve Kroft.

The story goes on to include passenger accounts of problems and failures they've experienced while on Allegiant flights.

“60 Minutes” adds Allegiant’s planes have been nearly three and a half times more likely to have serious in-flight mechanical failures than other U.S. airlines.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in January 2018.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in January 2018.

In his letterto the FAA, Senator Wyden asks whether Allegiant’s safety record requires action…and why the FAA has yet to implement its own recommended maximum penalties against the airline.   

“Oregonians fly on Allegiant airplanes out of Eugene and Medford, and I want to ensure they are buckling into airplanes that are prepared to fly and will reach their destinations safely,” writes Wyden.

“The FAA has the responsibility to ensure airlines are safe for everyone in the United States. Safety should be the number one priority for all airlines, and safety should never be sacrificed in an effort to increase profits.”

The Las Vegas-based carrier defends its safety record, claiming that the “60 Minutes” report is misleading and doesn’t understand the FAA’s oversight of airlines.

In an email to KLCC, Allegiant Airlines' spokesperson Hilarie Grey shared a statement from the company:

"While we maintain that CBS posted a misleading narrative based on biased and uninformed sources, and which shows a fundamental misunderstanding of FAA compliance practice and history, we welcome any analysis of our operation and safety culture, at any time . Our most recent FAA audit found no regulatory or systemic issues; we promptly addressed and rectified any minor issues raised. Since that time, the FAA’s continuous evaluations have not identified any significant issues with our current operation.

"Safety is at the heart of our operations and is the guiding star for our company. Our employees and families fly on our airline, along with the nearly 90 million passengers who have traveled with us since Allegiant began."

Meanwhile, another U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson (D-FL) is calling for an investigation into the FAA's handling of Allegiant Air.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Copyright 2018 KLCC

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.