Flight delays happen pretty often in travel. When I’m flying on a late night flight to Reagan, I’m hoping the delays don’t push us past the airport closing because then we divert to Dulles–which is bit more difficult to get out of (and I used to live right by Reagan airport).
A flight delay caused Allegiant Air to take off an hour later. The problem is, their original flight time had their plane landing 12 minutes before the airport was supposed to close for training exercises.
The pilot told the tower on Thursday that he didn’t have enough fuel to make it to a back-up airport, so he was forced to declare an emergency to clear airspace for a landing at Fargo’s Hector International Airport, according to a recording of air traffic between the pilot and tower available on the website LiveATC.net.
At one point, an air traffic controller rebuked the airline for its apparent ignorance of the airport closing, which the Federal Aviation Administration provides notice of far in advance.
“Your company … should have been aware of this for a number of months,” the controller said.
In the recording, they asked the pilot to wait a few minutes where they figure things out. The pilot replied that he didn’t have that long–that he was on bingo fuel.
Edit: Fargo Airport was closed and the flight was en-route from Las Vegas to Fargo on July 27th, 2015 when this occurred.
If you wanted to hear the entire flight air traffic recording, you can do so here:
The crazy part is how confused the pilot sounds. He explains that Allegiant Air has been trying to call in for a while to land, but the air traffic controller responds that they should have known the airport is closed.
The part that I don’t fully understand is how they hit “bingo fuel” so quickly. I find it hard to believe they arrived at their destination with so little fuel. They circled for a while, but wouldn’t someone have realized the airport was closed at some point and diverted them to a nearby airport?
What do you think went wrong here?