Editorials

Why gather flight safety data if not to tell, protect public?

Allegiant Airlines is the only passenger carrier at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.
Allegiant Airlines is the only passenger carrier at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. znizami@bnd.com

Allegiant Airlines is a heck of a deal, but we now learn that deal might come with the scare of a lifetime.

The Tampa Bay Times recently reviewed 65,000 records from the Federal Aviation Administration on the nation’s 11 largest airlines for 2015. The findings ranked Allegiant’s as the most likely planes to experience an aircraft failure during flight, with half of their planes failing in mid-flight at least once in 2015.

The average for all airlines was three in-flight failures for every 10,000 flights. Southwest was the best at one failure per 10,000. Allegiant was the worst at 12 failures per 10,000.

Passengers told harrowing stories of thinking they were about to die. Experts discussed serious lack of federal oversight and a spotty maintenance program on planes averaging 22 years old.

Allegiant said it is aware of the problems and working on improving its fleet and its maintenance.

But the real problem here is that the public was not aware of the issues.

The FAA makes the airlines collect the data, but it doesn’t bother compiling the data or comparing airlines or tracking performance. It takes no enforcement action other than telling Allegiant to fix the breaks.

Consumers deserve to know the safety records. Plus, what’s the point of forcing a business to collect data if there is no public servce being done as a result of that data?

You get what you pay for in a free marketplace, but when you are forced to pay taxes or higher prices of goods to support a government function, the government darned well better perform that function.

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