Bangor airport official satisfied with Allegiant’s safety record despite engine failure

Posted Nov. 12, 2013, at 4:15 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 12, 2013, at 6:13 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport is satisfied with Allegiant Airlines’ safety record despite Sunday’s failure of the left engine on one of Allegiant’s planes that forced it to land shortly after takeoff, according to an airport official.

On the morning of Nov. 10, passengers aboard Allegiant Flight 737, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 bound for Sanford Orlando International Airport in Sanford, Fla., said they heard “loud clangs and thumps” after their flight began. After a few minutes, the pilot notified passengers that the plane would return to Bangor.

James Canders, assistant airport director, said Tuesday afternoon that the plane cleared all preflight checks and that “all aircraft are maintained to high standards set by the [Federal Aviation Administration].”

Airport officials say that initial checks indicate that a piece of the engine’s nose cone came loose and got caught up in the engine fan blades. Canders compared it to a piece of paper being pushed into a running fan. The FAA has yet to complete its own investigation.

A search for incidents involving Allegiant planes on the FAA’s Accident and Incident Data System yielded 17 reports between 2005 and the summer of 2012, each of which resulted in minor or no damage to the aircraft. None of the incidents happened in Maine.

In June 2012, a pilot was punished with a week without pay and directed to participate in training sessions after he got a plane stuck in the mud. In July 2012, a generator failure prompted an emergency landing and evacuation in Flagstaff, Ariz.,that left four passengers with minor injuries resulting from their exits on an emergency slide.

In July of this year, an Allegiant plane’s engine failed while it was preparing to take off on the runway at Sanford Orlando International Airport. A similar blowout was reported in 2011 in Oregon.

Others in this crop of 17 incidents have ranged from unscheduled landings forced by odd noises coming from the cabin door to planes overrunning runways.

Canders said he believes Allegiant’s safety record is on par with other airlines. He said these planes are flown every day and mechanical issues are bound to arise, but on a rare basis. With so many planes in the air flying so often, incidents like this are bound to accumulate over time.

Frontier Airlines based out of Denver has 53 planes in its fleet, consisting of Airbus A320s and A319s. For comparison, that airline has about 20 incidents listed in the FAA database since 2005. All except one resulted in minor or no damage to the aircraft. The issues range from bird strikes and engine failures to accidental emergency exit slide deployments.

Larger airlines with hundreds of planes, such as Delta and American Airlines, have much longer lists of incidents since 2005. American has nearly 70 and Delta more than 90.

The Allegiant plane is still in Bangor undergoing repairs, according to Canders. Another Allegiant plane took delayed passengers to Florida Monday morning.

Allegiant media contacts did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

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