Allegiant Made the News

Old 04-20-2015, 06:28 AM
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Default Allegiant Made the News

New York Times article, pilots obviously not happy...

For the last decade, Allegiant Air has built a thriving business buying secondhand jets and connecting small cities to leisure destinations like Las Vegas and Honolulu.
By keeping costs low, offering cheap fares, and flying from places that other carriers have neglected, like Fort Wayne, Ind., or Allentown, Pa., Allegiant has grown rapidly. Today, the airline has one of the highest profit margins in the business and among the lowest costs.
But Allegiant’s scrappy success is now being questioned by its pilots, who say they are worried about repeated mechanical problems with the airline’s fleet of older planes, poor maintenance operations and a culture where profits come before safety.
The conflict between the pilots and the airline’s chairman and chief executive, Maurice Gallagher, has become increasingly tense over the last two years, with both sides locked in negotiations over a new contract.
It is not unusual for pilots to bring up safety and maintenance issues in the middle of labor talks. To the airline, the complaints represent scare tactics by the pilots union, driven by demands over benefits and work rules.
Since it was founded in 1997, Allegiant has kept a tight focus on reining in costs. It subcontracts all but the most routine maintenance, for instance. It also buys older planes, which keeps its ownership costs down.
Last year, the company’s operating margin was about 14 percent, second only to Spirit Airlines. Traditional carriers generally post operating profits in the low single digits.
This low-cost model has also led to tensions with the airline’s work force. The dispute with the pilots, for instance, began after the pilots voted for union representation two years ago.
It has since played out in federal court, where pilots contend that the airline has unlawfully scaled back their benefits and tightened work rules and shut them out of voluntary safety programs that are common at other carriers.
Amid this simmering tension, Allegiant pilots said they had identified at least 65 incidents from September to March where flights were forced to divert to another airport, return to the gate or abort their takeoff because of a mechanical or an engine problem.
At least four times, engines shut down in flight, the pilots said. The list of problems also includes planes that lost their communications equipment, hydraulic leaks, engines that failed to deliver sufficient power, inoperative cockpit panel lights, and pressurization problems.
One airplane had repeated problems, including the loss of cockpit automation, before it was taken out of service for repairs.
All the claims were reported by the pilots and compiled by the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition on behalf of the pilots’ union, the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224.
Their report concluded that poorly trained mechanics, insufficient spare parts, and an aging fleet were “creating a dangerous paradigm that could eventually lead to an accident resulting in serious injury and loss of life.”
Allegiant’s pilots recently threatened to go on strike to force the company to restore previous work rules. Union officials denied they were making the safety accusations to gain leverage in negotiations.
Some aviation safety experts said the number of issues should raise some red flags at the Federal Aviation Administration.
“For a small fleet, that’s an awful lot of problems,” said John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board. “They are running on the safety margin.”
Allegiant said the accusations were “absurd.” It said planes were inspected by mechanics every night. The carrier said it also has an analysis and surveillance program, as well as a reliability program, to monitor the fleet’s health and performance and shares its data with the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Neither Allegiant nor the F.A.A. have identified abnormal trends,” said Jessica Wheeler, a spokeswoman for Allegiant.
Steve Harfst, the chief operating officer of the Allegiant Travel Company, which owns the airline, said in a statement: “The safety of our passengers and crew is, above all, our No.1 priority. Allegiant has one of the best safety records among passenger airlines in the world and complies with all F.A.A. regulations.”
The F.A.A. did not address the specific issues raised by Allegiant’s pilots, but pointed out that it had increased surveillance while the airline dealt with its current labor issues.
The agency is “continuously monitoring, evaluating and providing oversight of Allegiant Air to ensure the carrier is capable of meeting its responsibility for safe operations,” according to Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the F.A.A.
Federal regulators have already taken a deep look at Allegiant’s operations. In 2013, a routine F.A.A. inspection found problems with the airline’s maintenance and training programs.
The inspection, which is known as an Air Carrier Evaluation Program, and which has not been made public, led the F.A.A. to temporarily shut down the airline’s training programs for pilots, mechanics and flight attendants and freeze new plane deliveries until problems were addressed.
Among the problems the F.A.A. found was that Allegiant’s repair program did not properly distinguish between “minor” and “major” repairs and did not adequately track structural defects. The F.A.A. also said Allegiant was “not effective in identifying systemic deficiencies” and also found problems with the training of pilots for Boeing 757s and Airbus A320s.
Most issues were resolved within six months. Allegiant said that the F.A.A. found that a training manual needed to be revised, but that there was never any question or concern regarding training processes or pilot qualification.
John Cox, the chief executive of Safety Operating Solutions, and a former safety official at the Air Line Pilots Association, said tense labor negotiations could often bring “rhetorical excesses” about safety. In some cases, he said, airlines and pilots can benefit by bringing an outside auditor to review the facts and provide a dispassionate analysis of events.
“Allegiant is pretty unique because they are ultralow cost,” Mr. Cox said. “Older airplanes have more mechanical issues than newer ones. But does that make them unsafe? Absolutely not. Allegiant has had a pretty good track record.”
Union officials also assert that the airline has shut its pilots out of several safety programs that are common at many airlines including one known as the Aviation Safety Action Program. Allegiant denies this, saying it invited pilots to the monthly meeting of its flight operations safety committee.
Allegiant operates a fleet of 70 airplanes, mostly McDonnell-Douglas MD-80s, which have an average age of 22.2 years. Last year, it carried eight million passengers.
Mr. Gallagher, who is also Allegiant’s biggest shareholder, was one of four co-founders of ValuJet. He left that airline in 1997, a year after the crash of ValuJet Flight 592, when the airline merged with AirTran and changed its name. It is now part of Southwest. Mr. Gallagher declined to be interviewed.
Tom Haueter, the former director of aviation safety at the National Transportation Safety Board, said the problems highlighted by Allegiant pilots did not necessarily reflect a systemic problem with the company.
Pilots can overreport a problem, either out of an abundance of caution or because they are seeking concessions from the airline, he said. That can make the job of F.A.A. inspectors more difficult, he said.
“The truth sometimes lies in the middle,” Mr. Haueter said.
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:48 AM
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ValuJet part 2
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by whataclub
ValuJet part 2
I hate to say I'm not old enough to know the details of ValueJet but it is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this article. Very scary to read about these things all to make a buck.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:14 PM
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God save the Allegiant pilots and their passengers.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:15 PM
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As well as their unsuspecting FAs
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fishforfun
I hate to say I'm not old enough to know the details of ValueJet but it is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this article. Very scary to read about these things all to make a buck.
Valuejet had 3 class A (total hull writeoff) accidents in their last year. DC9 uncontained engine failure (rotor was overhualed in Turkey) , 737 off the side of rwy ATL, and the Everglades deal. That worked out to roughly 10% of the fleet.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:27 PM
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Why aren't any of the above-cited events listed on NTSB? Is the company neglecting to report these events?
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TalkTurkey
Why aren't any of the above-cited events listed on NTSB? Is the company neglecting to report these events?
From the google:

Flight 597

On June 8, 1995, a DC-9-32, ValuJet Flight 597 suffered an aborted takeoff from Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport after a catastrophic engine failure which was caused when the engine became rusted, ValuJet was aware of it but did not have the budget to fix it. Shrapnel from the right engine penetrated the fuselage and the right engine main fuel line, and a cabin fire erupted. The airplane was stopped on the runway, and captain Greg Straessle ordered evacuation of the airplane. The plane was on a scheduled flight to Miami International Airport.[9]
The subsequent fire destroyed the aircraft. Among the five crew members, one flight attendant received serious puncture wounds from shrapnel and thermal injuries, and another flight attendant received minor injuries. Of the 57 passengers on board, five suffered minor injuries.[10]
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the engine failure was caused by a detectable crack in a compressor disk, on which a maintenance contractor had failed to perform a proper inspection and had kept poor records. The incident resulted in the NTSB issuing an advisory recommending improvements to maintenance rules throughout the industry.[11]

AirTran Airways Incidents and Accidents Flight Date Aircraft Location Description Injuries Fatal Serious Minor AirTran Airways 426
May 7, 1998 Douglas DC-9-32 Calhoun, GA Flight crew failed to maintain adequate separation from hazardous meteorological conditions. The investigation revealed that the captain had been involved in two other air carrier incidents involving adverse weather conditions. It also revealed that the airline lacked adequate training and guidance regarding hazardous weather interpretation and avoidance, as well as adequate procedures to notify flight attendants about potential turbulence. A flight attendant and a passenger were seriously injured during a turbulence encounter.
AirTran Airways 867
November 1, 1998 Boeing 737-200 Atlanta, GA Lost control and skidded off of the runway while landing, with main landing gear in a drainage ditch and its empennage extending over the taxiway. The nose gear was folded back into the electrical/electronic compartment and turned 90 degrees from its normal, extended position. The cause was an improperly repaired hydraulic line leak.

13 AirTran Airways 913
August 8, 2000 Douglas DC-9-32 Greensboro, NC The flight crew executed an emergency landing at Greensboro. Shortly after takeoff the flight crew declared an emergency due to an in-flight fire and smoke in the cockpit. An emergency evacuation was performed. Of the 58 passengers and 5 crewmembers on board, 3 crewmembers and 5 passengers received minor injuries from smoke inhalation. Five passengers and one ground crewmember received minor injuries during the evacuation. The airplane sustained substantial fire, heat, and smoke damage and was written off. The flight was operating to Atlanta.

13 AirTran Airways 956
November 29, 2000 Douglas DC-9-32 Atlanta, GA The flight crew executed an emergency landing at Atlanta. Shortly after takeoff the flight crew observed that several circuit breakers had tripped and several annunciator panel lights had illuminated. After the landing, one of the flight attendants reported to the flight crew that smoke could be seen emanating from the left sidewall in the forward cabin; air traffic control personnel also notified the flight crew that smoke was coming from the airplane. The flight crew then initiated an emergency evacuation on one of the taxiways. Of the 2 flight crewmembers, 3 flight attendants and 92 passengers on board, 13 passengers received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage and was written off. The flight was operating to Akron, OH.

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Old 04-21-2015, 06:59 AM
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Sorry about the format on that last one, it was originally a table.

The theme is that their ultra low cost model caused systemic failures. Pilots were not paid for a leg mx canceled, so they flew an airplane for a month with no radar, until someone flew it into a thunderstorm. Rampers were offered, but not paid for several days of hazmat awareness/first responder training required by OSHA, so no one took it. Maybe a trained ramper would have noticed the ox generators improperly packed/labeled? Wasn't "Forklift Joe" of AA DC-10 fame running their mx?
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Old 04-21-2015, 07:06 AM
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and people called Mary Schiavo a kook. (Read her book)
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