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60 Minutes report dings airline serving OKC

(<a href="" rel="nofollow">Eric Salard</a>)
(<a href="" rel="nofollow">Eric Salard</a>)

60 Minutes took a hard look at discount carrier Allegiant Air Sunday night in a blistering report that centered on the airline's maintenance and operations practices which have led to a string of emergencies ranging from mid-air engine failure to unexplained fumes in cabins. 

The entire report can be viewed here. 

It's not the first time Allegiant has come under fire. The Tampa Bay Times took a look at the airline in detail in 2016, and based on 60 Minutes' reporting it looks like Allegiant is still having some of the same problems. 

Lisa Cozzolino started to panic as Allegiant Air Flight 844 circled over Pinellas County, burning off fuel for an emergency landing. “All the bad things I’ve done in my life,” she said to her sister, “and now I’m going to die.”

Matt Jones fumbled with his cellphone, trying to call his wife to say goodbye, as crew members on Allegiant Flight 822 ordered him to tuck into crash position over Baltimore. “I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to see my wife or my kids or my grandkids again,’” he recalled.

Jessica Stoffel was so afraid on Allegiant Flight 175 over Mesa, Ariz., that she grabbed the stranger next to her and squeezed his hand. “I was terrified and honestly did not think we were going to make it,” she said.

All major airlines break down once in awhile. But none of them break down in midair more often than Allegiant.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation — which included a first-of-its kind analysis of federal aviation records — has found that the budget carrier’s planes are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines.

In 2015, Allegiant jets were forced to make unexpected landings at least 77 times for serious mechanical failures.

Cozzolino’s flight was interrupted by a leaky hydraulic system. Jones was on a plane with failing brakes. The engine on Stoffel’s plane caught fire during an aborted landing, and the jet dipped suddenly to one side. Its wing nearly touched the ground.

None of the 77 incidents prompted enforcement action from the Federal Aviation Administration, which doesn’t compare airline breakdown records to look for warning signs.

The rest of the story can be read here

Allegiant operates flights from Oklahoma City to Las Vegas along with seasonal flights to Los Angeles, Orlando and Destin. Founded in 1997, Allegiant operates a fleet of about 100 aircraft serving 177 destinations. 

Allegiant isn't happy about the report. Its stock took a nosedive Monday, prompting a companyofficial to shoot back

Allegiant’s vice president of operations, Capt. Eric Gust, issued a statement after the program that said the story was outdated and shows a “troubling misunderstanding” of the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety oversight of airlines.

“I want to tell you personally that I am outraged and astounded by the irresponsible, grossly misleading story aired by CBS 60 minutes,” Gust said in a statement to customers. “To you, a member of our Allegiant family of travelers, I want to be very clear: safety is at the core of every aspect of our operation, every day.”

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›