Feds Once Again Increase Scrutiny Of Allegiant Airlines After Repairs For Unsecured Bolts

When an Allegiant Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Peoria was speeding down the runway and the nose lifted too soon, pilots aborted the takeoff. That August incident – in which a bolt was found to be insecure – led the budget carrier to inspect all of its aircraft. While the company deemed its planes were in working order, a new report suggests that might not be the case. 

Bloomberg reports that mechanics for the airline found at least three additional incidents in which portions of the planes weren’t properly locked in place.

Although Allegiant maintains the newly found problems weren’t related to the August issue, federal regulators say they have once again increased scrutiny of the budget carrier.

“The FAA intensified its focus on the carrier’s flight operations and aircraft maintenance programs,” the Federal Aviation Administration said.

According to Allegiant repair logs, the August incident that led the airline to inspect its planes occurred because the so-called elevator boost actuator – panels on the tail used to climb and descent – was disconnected.

Bloomberg reports that subsequent maintenance reports show aircraft checked after the incident included two planes that had unsecured elevator bolts, while a third jet had an unsecured bolt on an aileron – a portion of the wing used to make turns.

Allegiant didn’t consider the findings to be part of the inspection results because it involved a different part of the aircraft than that involved in the August incident, a spokesperson tells Bloomberg.

“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,” the company said. “As these repairs were outside the scope of the fleet campaign in question, they were logged per normal procedure.”

Under FAA rules airlines are required to report all maintenance activities. But those reports don’t have to be disclosed immediately. Instead, they are entered into a database and shared quarterly.

While Allegiant didn’t break any regulations by not immediately reporting its findings, safety experts say the issues were serious.

John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, tells Bloomberg that the multiple instances of unsecured bolts and their locations on the aircraft “should result in a focused FAA audit.”

Work on flight control systems – the devices at issue for Allegiant’s planes – is considered critical because errors can lead to accidents.

“This is a primary flight control on the airplane. Anything less than perfect work on this system can have catastrophic results,” he said.

FAA Zeros In on Unsecured Tail Bolts; Risk Is Catastrophic [Bloomberg]