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FAA cites Allegiant Air for ‘minor’ infractions

Allegiant Air crew members did not consistently follow procedures, ramp personnel did not correctly complete forms and passengers were observed with excessive carry-on bags, according to an audit issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA said that the issues were “minor” during the three-month examination that wrapped up June 30, the Las Vegas budget carrier will not face penalties or enforcement action.

Allegiant issued a summary of the findings on Thursday. The company has until Sept. 30 to resolve the issues, and airline officials said that the company is already working toward addressing items cited in the report, known as a Certificate Holder Evaluation Process or CHEP.

“Our aim is to ensure the highest operational standards across every area of our system,” Jude Bricker, Allegiant’s chief operating officer, said in a statement posted on the company’s website.

“Maintaining those high standards involves continuous evaluation of the programs and processes we have in place, as well as ensuring consistency in our procedures to make operations ever stronger,” Bricker said. “We welcome the FAA’s review and view the CHEP process as an opportunity to further enhance our safety and operational reliability for the future.”

The FAA’s evaluation team examined records, inspected aircraft and visited Allegiant’s facilities from April 5 to June 30, officials said.

Training deficiencies included incomplete student records and an instance where fatigue issues were not explained to dispatchers, according to the summary of the audit posted on Allegiant’s website. Missing signatures on flight operation documents were also discovered, while a flight attendant’s manual was found on top of emergency equipment.

The audit also revealed two instances of “possible” regulatory maintenance issues, while noting that it did not appear to be a companywide, systemic problem. Additionally, Allegiant did not report an in-flight shut down of a plane engine within 96 hours of when it happened on March 31.

“None of were systemic regulatory problems, which are the most serious category of deficiencies identified during these types of reviews,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said, adding that the agency will “closely monitor the effectiveness of the carrier’s mitigations.”

Allegiant was notified of the audit in March, eight months after pilots made an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota, because the plane had less fuel than required.

Allegiant Air Flight 426 had departed Las Vegas on July 23, 2015, and was approaching Fargo’s airport when pilots learned that it was closed for a military air show rehearsal. At the time, crewmembers said they had to dip into reserve fuel and declared an emergency, but the MD-80 jet managed to land without incident.

Allegiant’s management and the Teamsters union representing the airline’s pilots had reached a tentative contract agreement in June. The deal pending ratification later this month.

“We have to wonder what kind of findings it would take for the FAA to take strong enforcement action,” said Daniel Wells, president of Teamsters Local 1224, the union representing Allegiant’s pilots.

“On the surface it appears that Allegiant passengers and crews deserve better from the FAA,” Wells said. “The safety culture at Allegiant cannot be fixed overnight, but Allegiant has committed to working more closely with its pilots to identify issues and work towards improving the safety of the airline.”

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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