Make us your home page
Instagram

Allegiant Air flight suffers problem with critical component in April 22 emergency

An Allegiant Air flight out of Orlando-Sanford International Airport was forced to make an emergency landing on April 22 after it suffered a problem with a critical control surface that caused a worrisome vibration in the aircraft.
[Times file photo]

An Allegiant Air flight out of Orlando-Sanford International Airport was forced to make an emergency landing on April 22 after it suffered a problem with a critical control surface that caused a worrisome vibration in the aircraft. [Times file photo]

An Allegiant Air flight out of Orlando-Sanford International Airport was forced to make an emergency landing on April 22 after it suffered a problem with a critical control surface that caused a worrisome vibration in the aircraft.

Flight 736 took off at 9:13 a.m. headed to Bangor International Airport in Maine with 173 passengers and crew. During the climb out of central Florida, the pilots reported vibrations with the airframe of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80, according to an internal Allegiant memo obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

The crew, the memo said, "had concerns with the elevator control."

The captain of the flight declared an emergency and the flight returned to Orlando-Sanford, where it safely landed at 10:08 a.m. "No immediate corrective actions to policy, procedure or the training program were found to be needed," the email said.

The elevator controls the pitch of the aircraft, moving the aircraft's nose up and down and controlling what pilots refer to as the plane's "angle of attack." It's a control surface critical to flight as it is not a redundant system and a failure can lead to a crash. Manufacturers design the systems to essentially never fail.

Allegiant described to the Times several parts of the elevator mechanism that mechanics replaced after inspecting the aircraft. But the Las Vegas-based carrier refused to talk about the root cause of the elevator problem on Flight 736 or to talk in detail about the incident.

John Cox, CEO of aviation safety consultant firm Safety Operating Systems, said a plane's elevator can wear down. Because of how the system works on Allegiant's MD-80s, the pilot wouldn't necessarily notice the issue until the plane was airborne.

Cox said the incident does beg the question why maintenance had not spotted a problem with the mechanism before it caused a problem during a flight. "Any time you have a problem with a primary flight control, it's serious," he said.

An Allegiant flight suffered a jammed elevator in August 2015 after a mechanical failure of an elevator in Las Vegas. That plane's nose started to prematurely rise during the takeoff roll at 138 mph when the pilots managed to abort the takeoff. One of the pilots said afterward "had the aircraft become airborne, a serious accident would have resulted."

The FAA blamed an Allegiant maintenance contractor for the incident.

Allegiant is in the midst of replacing its fleet of aging MD-80s because the aircraft are prone to mechanical problems. Allegiant says the planes are safe, but mechanical difficulties lead to problems with the airline's operations and schedule. The airline will no longer fly MD-80s out of St. Pete-Clearwater, where Allegiant is responsible for 95 percent of passenger traffic, by the end of the year.

Times staff writer Malena Carollo contributed to this report.

Allegiant Air flight suffers problem with critical component in April 22 emergency 05/09/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 11:16am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

    Autos

    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]