Are Allegiant planes safe?
A Tampa Bay Times Investigation found Allegiant jets are four times more likely to fail in air than planes operated by other U.S. airlines.
The Times found Allegiant jets made 77 emergency landings for very serious mechanical failures over the course of 2015 alone.
The investigation also found Allegiant's jets are on average 22 years old. Compare that to the other big U.S. airlines: one average, their jets are 12 years old. And unlike other large airlines, Allegiant doesn't always have a staffed team of mechanics at each airport to address major issues.
It's a troubling report, especially at airports where Allegiant operates a majority of the flights. In Tampa, at the St Pete Clearwater Airport, 95 percent of the flights are Allegiant. And in the Valley, Allegiant operates almost all the flights out of Mesa Gateway Airport.
Get this: Forty-two of Allegiant's 86 planes broke down in mid-flight at least once in 2015.
Tampa Bay Times took their findings straight to Allegiant leaders. "I can't sit here and say that you're wrong," Allegiant's CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr. said, "We're very much focused on running a better operation."
Allegiant plans to start replacing some of its aging fleet soon.
Wondering how you can force safety improvements? Reach out to the FAA and insist they investigate problems and force changes.
According to the Times Investigation, the FAA doesn't compare airline breakdown records to look for warning signs.
It's true that all the major airlines have jets that break down once in a while. But none of them break down in midair more often than Allegiant. From leaky hydraulic systems, to failing brakes, to planes catching fire during aborted landings...every incident is reported to the federal government.
Last year, after a number of issues were reported, the FAA launched a three-month review of Allegiant's maintenance, training and operations programs. Investigators found problems with Allegiant's maintenance paperwork, but decided nothing it discovered was severe enough to take action.
Some passengers say they feel a little uncomfortable about hopping on board Allegiant jets after hearing about the Times’ scathing report.
Others argue they get what they pay for, and the flights -- which can be hundreds of dollars cheaper -- are too reasonable to pass up.
To read the full Tampa Bay Times investigation, click here.
(© 2017 WTSP)