My previous blog regarding the 60 Minutes Story on Allegiant first aired on April 15, 2018 has drawn a lot of attention (https://www.doctoraviation.com/is-allegiant-air-safe/). Below are some responses from Allegiant as well as to visitors to Doctor Aviation’s Facebook page.
The most important response is from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In a letter dated April 11, 2018, Mr. Ali Bahrami, Aviation Safety Associate Administrator for the FAA wrote to 60 Minutes. Note that this letter was written four days before the scheduled broadcast. Mr. Bahrami states that Tampa Bay Tribune articles written in 2016 concerning the FAA’s oversight of Allegiant contained a number of inaccuracies. More importantly he states, “Since the 2016 CHEP (a FAA inspection) the FAA has conducted ongoing evaluations of Allegiant’s safety compliance, as it does with all carriers, and has not identified any significant or systematic problems with the carrier’s current operation.” You can read his three page letter at the following link: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/April_11_2018_FAA_Letter_to_CBS_60_Minutes_attachments.pdf
Some have commented on the age of the Allegiant aircraft. The MD-80, which has been the focus of most of the issues, was built between 1979 and 1999. While this is older for a commercial aircraft, it is by no means unique. There are many commercial aircraft in use that were built in the 1980s and 90s. Contrast that with the Boeing B-52 which was built in the 1950s. Although they have been modified through the years, the B-52 remains in service. Ditto for the Mighty KC-135, still going strong although it was built in the late 1950s.
So age, in and of itself, does not equate to being unsafe. As Ron Stith pointed out in a comment, what matters is consistent maintenance schedule and inspections. https://www.facebook.com/doctoraviation/
According to Allegiant, the lawyer for a terminated employee who is suing the company, suggested that the 60 Minutes story may “go away” if an out of court settlement was reached. Additionally, Mr. Goglia who was a featured critic on 60 Minutes is a paid witness for the terminated employee and has not worked for the FAA in nearly 15 years.
Finally, 60 Minutes reported that Allegiant refused to provide someone on camera. According to Allegiant CEO, Maury Gallagher, 60 Minutes has been working on the story for a year. However, they did not approach Allegiant for comment until just weeks before the broadcast. Allegiant offered to provide several subject matter experts from within Allegiant to address the concerns. However, 60 Minutes declined their offer.
So in the end, viewers must weigh the evidence for themselves. What does seem clear is that the “whole story” was not shared last Sunday evening on 60 Minutes