There are two major plot twists in the Allegiant Air case.
When asked to circle until they cleared the runway, the pilot said he had “bingo fuel” and needed to go down now.
The plane did not circle beforehand, so there was no way it could have burnt a lot of fuel in that short of a time. So the FAA investigated why the plane apparently had 3 minutes of fuel left.
But then it turns out there was a plot twist.
Let’s go back to when the pilot had “bingo” fuel.
According to Review Journal, when the plane landed, it had 42 minutes of fuel left.
So when the pilot said they had “bingo fuel,” he was either mischaracterizing what he had, or he had no idea how much fuel he had left.
So a plane declared a emergency landing and landed at a closed airport running practice exercises. Within a few minutes of arriving at the airport. With 42 minutes of fuel left.
So why would a seasoned pilot lie about or not be aware of what his fuel levels are at?
Here comes the second plot twist.
Neither pilot was a seasoned, regular pilot.
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 that it is not uncommon for members of operations management to take flights to maintain their pilot status.
Now I understand flying along to keep up your pilot status–but allowing both pilots to be people who fly part time seems irresponsible.
Here are just a few points they missed on:
- They were unaware of how much fuel they had either at taking off and when landing
- OR they intentionally lied to air traffic control about how much they had
- They were unaware that Fargo airport was closed–despite the FAA issuing multiple warnings about that.
- They had an unnecessary emergency declared at the closed airport
Ultimately, it is up to the pilot to know how much fuel he has when departing and how much fuel he has when landing.
He is in charge of the craft, and it is the captain’s and co-pilot’s responsibilities to maintain the integrity of the flight.
It is their responsibilities to know if the airport they are flying to is open and it is their responsibilities to be the stewards of safety for every person on that plane.
No wonder people in the management of Allegiant Air were also trying to dial air traffic control and the pilots did not know the proper numbers to give them.
What I think happened is–two dude bros at Allegiant Air decided to take a joy ride together from Vegas to keep their pilot status, rather than traveling with a co-pilot who is more seasoned. Out of a disregard for the passengers, they preferred to fly together and committed basic errors regarding fuel, their (now closed) destination, and distances to nearby open airports.
They were flying a Mad Dog. They should have been aware of what they were getting into. They were not flying a Dash 8 they could put down anywhere. There were 140 passengers on the plane. This just feels completely irresponsible. And I feel more outraged than I did when the story originally broke.
What do you think?