On June 25th, 2015, Allegiant Air reported five emergency landings. They resulted from an instrument panel that started smoking, a tail cone that was
overheating, a generator that failed, and a fuel pump that failed. Allegiant has reported the highest number of precautionary landings of any other
carrier, some say of any other two carriers combined. The response by the FAA? Gather numbers and reports, and ignore the problem. Last year a
pilot was fired for ordering an evacuation of an aircraft, which can be a sign of bad management. They didn't even fine them after a maintenance
contractor almost caused an accident after performing maintenance on one of their aircraft.
Twenty years after Valujet 592 crashed into the Everglades, little has changed in the FAA when it comes to oversight of the airlines. After 15 years,
and millions of dollars, the system that they attempted to put into place to monitor trends at the airlines that might show a safety problem, they
threw the system out, because they couldn't get it to work. The replacement for it, is to basically allow the airlines to monitor themselves.
Allegiant is a great example. In September 2013, the FAA found their maintenance procedures were below standard, so they announced they would bar
them from buying new planes, adding routes, or other growth procedures until they fixed the problem. Allegiant agreed, and the FAA took no action.
In December 2013, an MD-88 that underwent maintenance in Oklahoma City was signed off, without anyone noticing that a cotter pin was left out of the
fuel system. The day after the plane went back into service, it made an emergency landing in Fargo, after the pilot had to shut the engine down due
to uncontrolled surging from too much fuel being delivered to the engine.
The contractor reported the incident, and the FAA allowed Allegiant and the contractor to investigate the incident. Allegiant reported that they
would no longer allow the worker that signed off on the aircraft to sign off on work completed. The FAA agreed and took no action. In 2015, another
Allegiant aircraft underwent overhaul, and the worker failed to notice, again, that a cotter pin was not installed in the tail flight control system.
The aircraft flew 261 flights before the control rod came apart. They were taking off in Las Vegas, and the pilot noticed the controls go full nose
up, and they couldn't get them forward. They aborted at over 100 mph.
Allegiant notified the FAA of the incident by text message, and the FAA and Allegiant investigated together. They found the contractor to be at
fault. The contractor stated they would require a second worker to sign off on major work to the aircraft, and the FAA closed the case, with no fines
or action taken beyond the investigation. In 2015, there were 12 times that Allegiant had three or more flights end with an aircraft breaking down in
a single week.
In May of 2015, John Tutora, who was the interim inspector in charge of monitoring Allegiant's maintenance programs retired from the FAA, and
immediately went to work at Allegiant as their regulatory compliance manager.
It's far past time for the FAA to be ended and replaced with something else, and that something needs to be far more effective than the bogus agency
that is in place now. Right now, US commercial flights are safer than ever, but that's more a matter of luck than anything the FAA is done. After
Valujet, the nickname for the FAA was the Tombstone Agency, because so often they won't take any action against airlines or to make procedures safer
until someone dies.