FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Crews worked on Allegiant Flight 891 Monday following mechanical issues that forced the plane to safely turn around on the runway. The incident Saturday is the latest since Allegiant Airlines was questioned for safety issues nationwide.
Passenger Matt Wilson was among 153 passengers and six crew members on board. He said the plane was about halfway down the runway.
“Probably getting pretty close to when the nose might have been starting to go up and all of a sudden, right next to me, there’s a huge pop,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, the cabin filled with smoke for about five to ten seconds.
“No one panicked, everyone stayed pretty calm,” Wilson said. “Pilot came on and said obviously, we had the engine malfunction,” Wilson said.
Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition announced last month that it’s launching an investigation into ‘reports of a disproportionate number of engine failures, air returns and emergencies at Allegiant Air.’
NewsChannel 15 spoke to people at the airport Monday about the incident following previous accusations of unsafe maintenance practices and delayed inspections and repairs.
“As any normal person would, that’s kind of a scary situation, So, I’ll be a little hesitant to fly with them,” Selena Lozada said.
“It’s safer to fly than it is to drive your car, So, I would fly anywhere in the country with them. I would,” Dr. Reverend Isaac Fincher said.
Allegiant released the following statement:
“At Allegiant the safety of our passengers and crew is always our top priority. Flight 891 Fort Wayne, IN (FWA) to St. Pete, FL (PIE) safely aborted take off and returned to the gate after pilots were alerted to a mechanical issue and reports of smoke in the cabin. Emergency personnel deemed the aircraft safe to return to the gate and passengers deplaned normally. The aircraft has been taken out of service so that our maintenance team can evaluate and diagnose the cause. There were 153 passengers and six crew members on board.”
According to Scott Hinderman, Executive Director at Fort Wayne International Airport, between 20 to 25 flights leave the airport daily and mechanical issues do happen.
“They’re certainly not extremely rare but they’re not extremely common either. An event where they have to abort take off that is not as frequent as we normally have,” Hinderman said.
While Allegiant has been questioned for emergency landings, mechanical issues and flights taking off with low fuel, Hinderman said the airport doesn’t pick and choose who flies in and out.
“We’re not able to select those who want to and then deny others. As the airport authority, we do support all the carriers that come in here as best that we can and Allegiant is a great partner for us,” Hinderman said.
Allegiant Airline flies non-stop from Fort Wayne to five destinations. NewsChannel 15 reached out to Allegiant about what’s next for the airline and whether it plans on doing anything differently in the future and have not heard back.