Allegiant Grounds MD-80s For Slide Inspections

September 20, 2013

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Allegiant Air, a low-cost carrier that provides service to leisure destinations, is grounding 30 of its aircraft, or roughly half of its fleet, to inspect emergency evacuation slides in response to an FAA request for information.

In a statement on Friday, Allegiant cited a "compliance issue" that will necessitate prompt inspections of the evacuation slides in its MD-80 aircraft. It added that the move would lead to delays and cancellations, and said the process was expected to be completed by the end of this month.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday it directed Allegiant to report on the status of the slides on its MD-80s after it investigated an emergency evacuation of Allegiant flight 436 at Las Vegas McCarran Airport on Monday.

"The FAA this week became aware that Allegiant Air may not have inspected some emergency evacuation slides on its MD-80 fleet at required intervals," Ian Gregor, public affairs manager with the FAA Pacific Division, said in a statement.

The Monday flight evacuation took place after smoke was seen coming from an Allegiant plane, according to local media reports. The FAA statement said all passengers on board that Allegiant flight were safety evacuated.

"We directed them to report on the slides' inspection status," Gregor added in an email. "Allegiant will do the inspections now that they're aware of the issue."

Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which offers flights to leisure destinations such as Orlando and Fort Lauderdale in Florida and cities in Hawaii, operates 57 MD-80 aircraft, six Boeing 757-200s, and one Airbus A319. The MD-80 was made by McDonnell Douglas, which Boeing acquired in 1997.

"We apologise for the disruption to our passengers and ask that they please remain patient as we work to correct the issue, reschedule affected flights and accommodate any passengers impacted," said Andrew Levy, president of Allegiant Travel, said in a statement.