If You Want to Observe the Wonders of the Unfettered Free Market, fly Allegiant Air

But if you would rather live, perhaps you might want to choose some other airline:

Lisa Cozzolino started to panic as Allegiant Air Flight 844 circled over Pinellas County, burning off fuel for an emergency landing. “All the bad things I’ve done in my life,” she said to her sister, “and now I’m going to die.”

All major airlines break down once in awhile. But none of them break down in midair more often than Allegiant.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation — which included a first-of-its kind analysis of federal aviation records — has found that the budget carrier’s planes are four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines.

In 2015, Allegiant jets were forced to make unexpected landings at least 77 times for serious mechanical failures.


None of the 77 incidents prompted enforcement action from the Federal Aviation Administration, which doesn’t compare airline breakdown records to look for warning signs.

To create such a comparison, Times reporters built a database of more than 65,000 records from the FAA.


When the Times first reached out to Allegiant officials for this story, they declined to speak with reporters. Then, after the newspaper presented them with its findings, they asked for a meeting. During five hours of interviews at the company’s Las Vegas headquarters and training center, they acknowledged their planes break down too often and said the airline is changing the way it operates.


“Allegiant is probably going to have an accident,” said former FAA inspector Richard Wyeroski, who became a whistleblower in 2002. “That airline should basically be grounded and re-evaluated for their certificate.”


For this story, the Times used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain mechanical interruption summary reports for the 11 largest airlines in the United States. Then reporters connected the reports with records of unexpected landings from the U.S. Department of Transportation and FlightAware, a company that collects aviation data.

The result is the best available picture of how often mechanical problems cause midair emergencies at major airlines.

BTW, kudos to the Tampa Bay Times for a very good shoe leather reporting:

How we did the story: To compare the 11 major U.S. passenger airlines, the Tampa Bay Times set out to build the most comprehensive database of in-flight mechanical breakdowns ever created. A team of journalists used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records of mechanical problems known as “mechanical summary interruption reports” from the Federal Aviation Administration. Then they connected those records with data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the aviation tracking company FlightAware. Working through 65,000 records, they identified midair incidents caused by mechanical breakdowns by matching tail numbers, flight numbers, origin and destination and date fields. In cases where those details didn’t match up, the incidents were discounted. The database was built by Times staff writers Neil Bedi, Anthony Cormier, Carolyn Edds, Connie Humburg, Michael LaForgia, Nathaniel Lash, William R. Levesque, Eli Murray, Adam Playford and Eli Zhang.

This is old school journalism.

Take a look at public records, look for patterns, and don’t waste your time sucking up to anonymous  sources with dubious agendas.

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