Whether it’s the FAA or its own pilots, Allegiant has had trouble avoiding the perception that it has safety issues. Federal aviation officials are satisfied that Allegiant Air is taking steps to address problems that inspectors found during a three-month review of the low-cost airline.
Allegiant met a Friday deadline for telling the Federal Aviation Administration how it would comply with suggested improvements in training, maintenance, and procedures. None of the shortcomings were considered severe enough to warrant regulatory action against the airline.
“We were always a safe airline. This gives credence to our claim,” Jude Bricker, Allegiant’s chief operating officer since January, said in an interview Friday.
The FAA does a lengthy review of all airlines every five years but moved up its inspection of Allegiant by two years after an aborted takeoff, a plane that nearly ran out of fuel, and other events.
Among the weaknesses identified by inspectors: An inspector saw an instructor giving wrong advice to a pilot training on a simulator to land after an engine failure, dispatchers didn’t get required training about fatigue, ground workers didn’t follow procedure while planes pushed away from the gate, and there were paperwork and training-material problems.
“They found these findings, they are minor in nature by the FAA’s own classifications, and we’re going to not challenge them,” Bricker said.
Allegiant declined to publicly release its response to the FAA. A spokesman for the FAA, Ian Gregor, said the agency received Allegiant’s response and found it sufficient.
“The carrier has already taken action to mitigate many of our findings,” Gregor said, adding that the FAA will keep working with Allegiant if there are issues that still need to be addressed.
“Clearly the FAA thinks everything is fine, and that concerns us from the reports we have seen over the years,” said Greg Unterseher, director of representation for Teamsters Local 1224, which represents Allegiant pilots. The union has frequently accused the airline of cutting corners on maintenance and safety.
Bricker said the number of aborted takeoffs and flights that landed somewhere other than the planned destination has been declining since the company announced a contract agreement with pilots in late June.
“Some of that is seasonal — we fly a lot less of a schedule in September,” he said, “and I think some of it is just that it’s a little less tense out there and we are executing better.”
Allegiant said safety-related incidents have dropped 55 percent this year compared with the same period last year. Service reports to the FAA, one measure of maintenance and repair issues, are down 65 percent, according to FAA records.
The airline is part of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co. Its shares rose $1.72 to close at $132.07. They are down 21 percent in 2016.