The FAA Could Fine Allegiant Air Over $700,000 For Improper Maintenance

Allegiant Air could face a $700,000 fine from the FAA over improper maintenance on one of their McDonnell Douglas MD-88 aircraft.

The FAA could fine Allegiant $700,000. Photo: mark Finlay/Flickr

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering fining Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air $715,438 According to website Flight Safety.

On Wednesday, the FAA issued a statement in which they claimed that, in October of 2017, Allegiant Air contacted them asking for permission to deactivate the automatic reverse thrust on their MD-80 aircraft when the exhaust gas temperature was above normal.

The FAA responded to the low-cost airline two months later saying that to deactivate the system went against procedures, unless it was the system that was responsible for the higher than normal temperatures. While saying this, they pointed out the above normal temperatures could be due to something else and not the automatic reverse thrust.

While flying to Orlando, Florida from Roanoke, Virginia on April 13, 2018, the FAA claims that the exhaust gas exceeded normal temperature limits during the aircraft’s take-off saying:

“When this occurs, the MD-80 maintenance manual calls for turning off the automatic reverse thrust system, finding the cause of the excess temperature and correcting the cause before turning the system on again.”

“Allegiant, however, did not determine the cause of the excess temperature. … Instead, the carrier deactivated the system on April 14, 2018, and installed an inoperative placard on it.”

The FAA went on to say that Allegiant Air continued to fly the plane a further 28 times without having determined what was causing the excessive exhaust gas temperatures.

“As a result, Allegiant violated the terms of its FAA-issued operations specifications,” the FAA said.

After receiving notification from the FAA, the airline will have 30 days to respond.

This is not the first time Allegiant Air has been in trouble with the FAA

In 2016 the Tampa Bay Times ran a story saying that Allegiant’s planes were four times more likely to have in-flight failures than any other American airline.

Allegiant flew old MD-80’s. Photo:Mark Finlay/Flickr

A report by the highly-respected CBS television news show 60 Minutes following up on the Tampa Bay lead found that the airline had more than 100 serious mechanical issues during 2016 and 2017. These included mid-flight engine failure, rapid emergency descents, aborted take-offs, landings and smoke in the cabin.

Allegiant Air no longer uses the MD-80

After years of being the leisure airline’s workhorse, Smarter Travel reports that the last MD-80 flight took place in December of 2018. The airline now only operates with a fleet of Airbus A320’s, hopefully ending years of reliability and safety concerns.

Allegiants MD-80 replacement. Photo: Mark Finlay/Flickr

According to Smarter Travel, Allegiant responded to the 60 Minutes television show, saying, “Safety is at the forefront of our minds and the core of our operations.

Following up on promises made at that time, the airline was good to its word and has replaced all of its ageing MD-80s with newer Airbus A320’s.

Should Allegiant Air still be fined $700,000?

It’s all well and good that Allegiant Air got rid of their old MD-80’s for newer Airbus planes, but we still have to face facts that from what the FAA says the airline knowingly flew defective aircraft. That being the case they still need to be fined, as it not only punishes them for what they did, but sends a strong message to other airlines looking to cut corners.

Is the FAA doing a good enough job?

Following the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, there have been plenty of questions raised insinuating that the plane was rushed through its airworthiness process so that Boeing would not lose out on orders to Airbus. Then, of course, the FAA allowed Boeing to issue pilot instructions on how to fly the new jet on an iPad rather than have pilots train in simulators.

In fact, Sen. Chuck Schumer blasted the FAA in a New York Post article saying:
“Since at least 2014, it would appear the FAA has been in a nose-dive on safety, and that simply cannot fly.”

Allegiant-MD-80 fuselarge
Is the FAA now starting to get tough? Photo:Mark Finlay/Flickr

The article in the post continued saying enforcement actions” related to aeroplane maintenance as well as fines levied against airlines dropped by 70 per cent between 2014 and 2017. Given those statements, we can assume that the FAA is now looking to redeem itself and impose fines anywhere it can.