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Allegiant Air Low Fuel

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Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby KeithSmith » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:04 pm

This is one of those stories that begs for more detail. An airliner arrives at an airport that it NOTAM'd closed for the Blue Angels, can't make a destination 70 miles away and can't hold for more than three minutes.

Dispatcher, Captain and First Officer ............. and nobody saw a problem until they got to the airport low on fuel!

An airline pilot had only a few minutes left of fuel before he reached officials at a North Dakota airport to coordinate an emergency landing and safely deliver the 150 people onboard.

The hectic conversation between the pilot of an Allegiant Air flight and air traffic control officials at an airport in Fargo, N.D., details the small window of time they had to land the plane before it was out of fuel, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Flight 426 was scheduled to fly from Las Vegas to Fargo on Thursday and was delayed for an hour. By the time it reached its destination the airport was closed for the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, who were preparing for an upcoming air show, the newspaper reported.

The recording between the pilot and air traffic controller reveal the pilot was told to go to another airport 70 miles away or to wait 20 minutes for the crew to open a window for them to land. But neither option was feasible for the plane that was running dangerously low on fuel.

"Yeah, I don't have 20 minutes," the pilot said. "Yeah, listen, we're bingo fuel here in about probably three to four minutes and I got to come in and land." Bingo fuel is a term used in military aviation that means the pilot must immediately return to base because of lack of gas.

He also let them know going to another location was not an option.

"We don't have … enough fuel to go anywhere else," the pilot said. "And our guys are trying to get in touch with the tower manager right now to coordinate our landing or I'm going to have to declare an emergency and come in and land."

The pilot did declare an emergency and landed safely at the airport, an airline spokesperson told the Daily News. There were 144 passengers and six crew members onboard, the airline said.

The company did not address why the aircraft was operating on such a low fuel level.

"At this time, we are coordinating with the FAA and the airport to investigate all channels of communication regarding the flight and the circumstances leading to the declaration of emergency," Allegiant said in a statement.

The pilot was also notified by the airport employee that the airline should have known about the scheduled closing for months.

"OK. Yeah. Just … we'll follow up on that," said the pilot who was fairly composed given the circumstances.


Source: nydailynews.com
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby jjbaker » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:08 am

Supposedly someone took a video of what exactly transpired aboard Allegiant Air Flight 426!

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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby Rajay » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:36 pm

Flight crew and airline bear a lot of the ultimate responsibility but in my mind the biggest "moron" in this episode was the tower controller. Seemed to be completely clueless. "What part of we have less than 5 minutes fuel remaining do you not understand?"

Nothing was mentioned about the Blues themselves and how they reacted. I have to assume that they were monitoring the tower frequency and could have offered to "knock it off" and get out of the way for 5 whole minutes to allow the airliner to get down ASAP.

Same kind of "clueless" as that ND control tower operator - ABC News did a story the other night about 911 Operators who have hung up on people who were so upset or excited that they were swearing - and those particular 911 Operators took offense and just hung up on them - as if that was something worse than their actual emergency - there was one case in particular in which the victim died probably as a result of the lack of EMS help. WTF!!!!!?

Next thing you know, there will be a story about nurses who berate patients for bleeding all over their nice clean hospital floors!
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby jjbaker » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:19 pm

Haha!

I am sure the Angels can be told to knock it off and they will be gone like the wind (without complaint) to make room for a crew that hasn't understood the very basics of professional flying. As a spectator, I'd ask for my money back, if forced to watch a darn Allegiant Air jet (with screaming passengers inside) land, when I paid to see the Blue Angels...

I guess some shuffling on the seniority list is in order... maybe?
"Perhaps" the pilots should join ALPA to be sure that they are really medically fit to operate aircraft.

I heard Tim Conell knows a lot about that kind of stuff.... :dingle:
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby KeithSmith » Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:33 pm

Just when you think the story can't get any more interesting, this comes out:

Two Allegiant Air executives, the vice president of operations and the director of flight safety, were at the controls of the flight that made an emergency landing last week because it was nearly out of fuel.

Greg Baden, Allegiant's vice president of operations, and Michael Wuerger, director of flight safety, government affairs and quality assurance, were flying Allegiant's Flight 426 from McCarran International Airport to the Fargo, N.D., Hector International Airport on July 23.

A representative of Allegiant confirmed that Baden and Wuerger were flying the plane, adding it is not uncommon for members of operations management to take flights to maintain their pilot status.

Allegiant said it is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration in an investigation of the emergency landing, which was complicated by the closure of the Fargo airport for a practice session of the Navy's Blue Angels precision flight team, which was preparing for an air show.

Flight 426, with 144 passengers and six crew members on board, left Las Vegas an hour behind schedule and couldn't reach Fargo before closure of the airspace.

While a transcript of the conversation between the Allegiant cockpit and Fargo's air traffic control center indicated the twin-engine MD-80 jet was dangerously low on fuel as it approached Fargo, Allegiant officials say the plane had 42 minutes of fuel remaining when it arrived at 1:02 p.m., Central Daylight Time.


Here is the Reader's Digest version of the story ........ the people at the controls were not just two line pilots, they were airline executives. One was the vice president of operations and the other was the director of flight safety. As an interesting tidbit, the VP of Operations had been a big advocate of the airline flying with minimal fuel.

I find no fault with anything ATC did and I believe their communications were with approach control, not tower. If there is any fault to be found in the communication exchange it lies with the pilot who was reluctant to declare an emergency.
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby Rajay » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:37 am

jjbaker wrote:Haha!

I am sure the Angels can be told to knock it off and they will be gone like the wind (without complaint) to make room for a crew that hasn't understood the very basics of professional flying. As a spectator, I'd ask for my money back, if forced to watch a darn Allegiant Air jet (with screaming passengers inside) land, when I paid to see the Blue Angels...

It was not an actual airshow demonstration - it was a "practice" session according to what I heard.

And just to be clear for everyone else's sake, I did say that I believe that the ultimate responsibility for the problem lay with the flight crew and the airline...
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby KeithSmith » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:55 pm

Rajay wrote:It was not an actual airshow demonstration - it was a "practice" session according to what I heard.


That is correct. However, the protocols are the same for both a practice and the actual air show. The airport is NOTAM'd closed. If it is a towered airport, the FAA controllers step aside and the air show boss takes control and assumes responsibility. The FAA will continue to monitor for safety purposes but does not run the show.

The phrase "knock it off" is a standard air show term meaning to stop the show. It's universally understood, but also reinforced during the preshow briefing.
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby Rajay » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:29 am

The point that I was trying to make about it being a "practice" versus "real" airshow was in response to Jason's comment that if he was a paying customer at an airshow, he'd be unhappy that it was interrupted by an airliner making an emergency landing; all I was saying was that was not the case here - there were no paying customers in the audience. Random spectators for sure, but even so, that too should not be a factor or consideration in resolving the emergency.

Should the controller have said "I'm sorry but it's your own fault that you and all your passengers are going to die when your engines flame out from lack of fuel; we cannot risk offending the airshow audience that paid to see the Blue Angels"? Of course not! (So I am wondering why that perspective even entered in this conversation...)

As an aside, it is also my understanding that even outside of airshows (practice or real) the term "knock it off" is used by military pilots to abort or terminate whatever particular exercise they happen to be engaged in, whether it be an aerobatic demonstration or a dissimilar air combat maneuvering for another example.

More importantly, my original point about or personal problem with the controller was that in the middle of an emergency, regardless of who is to blame for it or who caused it, that is NOT the time to worry about that particular aspect of it. The Allegiant Air flight was estimated to be only 300 seconds away from becoming a 75 ton lawn dart and the lives of 150 people were at stake - that is not the time for bureaucratic pettiness. The first responsibility of all involved at that point (regardless of who caused it or got them into that situation) is to do whatever is necessary to resolve it quickly and get those people safely back on the ground. That was also my point in regard to the irresponsible and petty 911 Operators that I mentioned.

I am not in any way defending the actions and decisions made by the flight crew, but I am pointing out that at the time, in some cases hours earlier, that some of those critically poor choices were made by them, the potentially disastrous outcome of those choices was not as obvious as it was at the point that the controller was being (IMHO) so dense, obtuse, and petty.
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby KeithSmith » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:58 pm

Rajay wrote:the controller was being (IMHO) so dense, obtuse, and petty.

Yes, I understand that is your take on it, but I don't see any indication that anyone in air traffic control was dense, obtuse, or petty.

However, there is additional information in this article not previously made known:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/unanswered-questions-surround-emergency-allegiant-plane-landing/

Here is the Reader's Digest version:

While the airline says it was aware of the TFR, it provided a document to CBS News it describes as "release papers from when flight 426 was dispatched" showing an NOTAM issued by the Fargo airport indicating it was still open for scheduled passenger flights.

Allegiant said in a statement that the notice "clearly exempted scheduled air carriers from the air field closure." Allegiant COO Steve Harfst, who wrote the statement, added that "it wasn't until the aircrew contacted Fargo tower directly that they were advised that the airfield was closed to all traffic." Allegiant also maintained that its captain "exercised sound judgment in the operation of his aircraft."


and

But, Allegiant now says the pilot of flight 426, who was heard pleading with air traffic controllers to land, was not critically low on fuel. In fact, the airline says the MD-80 with 144 passengers and 6 crew abroad landed safely with "approximately 42 minutes" of fuel remaining. FAA rules require passenger airliners to have at least 45 minutes of extra fuel in the event a plane has to be diverted to another airport.


Both of which raise further questions.
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby akavidflyer » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:58 pm

I am 99.99999% certain that Jason said that tongue in cheek.. I took the comment as dripping with sarcasm :lol:

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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby TriPacer » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:15 am

Not entering the controller part of the conversation, but I can't say I'm surprised. Advocating low minimal fuel loads for maximum profitability was bound to push into this territory.
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Re: Allegiant Air Low Fuel

Unread postby jjbaker » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:00 pm

akavidflyer wrote:I am 99.99999% certain that Jason said that tongue in cheek.. I took the comment as dripping with sarcasm :lol:

:cheers:


I must obtrusively prostitute this statement and I re ass and emble it! I never ever once not posted anything dripping with sarcasm.
Wish I was just a "normal" member with the same privileges as everyone else. Guess I am not, my Teutonic humor often strikes people the other way.

I'll stick to my statement that a low fuel situation in a transport category aircraft is completely unacceptable by today's standards. Unless technical reasons prevented the aircraft from being flown within the boundaries of regular fuel reserves, enforcement action is in order. That includes the dispatchers and certainly the management and decision makers. Those are the guys in nice suits, surrounded by lawyers and bodyguards, doing dumb-ass press conferences after a few hundred innocent people had to go meet Jesus.

Passengers have a right to be transported by professionals (even if the seat was sold for $19.99) and people on the ground have a right not to be hit by a Tylenol with wings that has been running on fumes for a while. Sorry, no politically correct way to say it any nicer. Commercial pilots and ATP's are expected to perform to higher standards than this.

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