CONTACT 13: Allegiant airworthiness called into question

Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 29, 2015
and last updated 2018-04-16 19:53:49-04

As passengers become more fearful of flying Allegiant and the FAA steps up its scrutiny of the beleaguered airline, Contact 13 has discovered more maintenance issues. 

Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has the details Allegiant doesn't want you to hear.

Flashback to August 17. 

Pilots lose control of an Allegiant flight speeding down a McCarran airport runway--having to abort takeoff at high speed after a flight control malfunction caused the plane's nose to rise before it was going fast enough to fly.

"Flight controls have caused many, many, many accidents," said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member who also worked as an airline mechanic.

"It was probably very, very fortunate for everybody involved that that crew recognized it and kept the airplane on the ground," Goglia said.

Allegiant said that plane's left elevator boost actuator in the tail had become disconnected. 

A week and a half later, the airline issued a statement saying it did a "fleet-wide inspection of all of its MD-80 aircraft to ensure the flight control systems in those aircraft were functioning properly before returning them into service.  All aircraft were found to be in working order." 

But here's what Allegiant didn't say... During their inspections, they found two other MD-80 planes with similar problems.

Darcy Spears: is that a major deal?
John Goglia: My God!  That is a major deal!

Inside sources showed Contact 13 aircraft maintenance logs--screen shots from Allegiant Information Systems which show on August 19, one plane was found to have a nut missing its safety on the right side elevator power control actuator.

Goglia calls that, "an accident just waiting to happen."

A second plane on the same day had its "actuator fork bolt nut safetied wrong on left-hand elevator," which Goglia says "impeaches their maintenance process.  And the FAA should be very, very concerned about that."

Another maintenance log from August 27 shows a third aircraft with a problem on its wing.  A right-hand aileron hinge attach point mount bolt was missing its nut safety cotter pin.

"Those are three significant events.  Significant!  We've shut airlines down in this country for less than that!  So that is very, very, very disturbing."

Allegiant refused to talk to us for this story. 

They've accused us of lacking objectivity and distorting facts. 

But these same facts are being reported across the country.

Allegiant told Bloomberg business news that "during the fleet-wide inspection of the elevator boost actuators, allegiant mechanics made additional repairs to other aircraft, as they do each and every day.  As these repairs were outside the scope of the fleet campaign in question, they were logged per normal procedure." 

That's how they explain their previous statement that all aircraft were "found to be in working order."

Darcy Spears: Does this suggest that those planes were in working order?
John Goglia: Those airplanes, prior to those inspections, were not airworthy.

We couldn't broadcast the screen shots insiders showed us, because they're terrified of retribution from the airline. 

They fear Allegiant would use the screen shots to conduct an I.T. witch hunt, focusing on the whistle-blowers as opposed to the mechanical failures they're exposing.