Kentucky pilot says Allegiant having a catastrophic failure is 'inevitable'

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Kentucky pilot and aviation expert is offering a bold, yet grim prediction about the future of Allegiant following a scathing 60 Minutes report.

Robert Riggs has served on the Blue Grass Airport Zoning Commission and worked as a flight instructor during his aviation career, and he says he can easily spot red flags.

"Not doing proper flight planning. That's a prescription for an accident." Riggs says.

A 60 Minutes report says an accident is overdue. The airline has had more than 100 serious mechanical incidents on Allegiant flights between January 2016 and October 2017. Incidents included mid-air engine failures and smoke in the cabin.

A Versailles woman flying out of Cincinnati captured one of those scary moments when an engine blew on takeoff.

I just remember thinking that I would never see my daughter again," Mercedes Weller says.

WKYT has counted at least two incidents throughout the past year involving Allegiant flights at Blue Grass Airport.

Apart from mechanical concerns, Riggs says Allegiant may have a larger safety problem that dates back several years. He notified the airline and the FAA in 2013 after a pilot waited until the cabin doors were locked to have the plane fueled for takeoff.

"We're sitting there in an aluminum tube with no escape if the guy putting fuel in the airplane had an accident or mistake and started a fire," he says.

Riggs believes the mounting evidence is pointing to what could be a deadly mistake if Allegiant does not change its policies.

"It's inevitable that Allegiant's going to have a catastrophic failure that's going to get somebody hurt or killed," Riggs says.

Allegiant issued a comment saying the 60 Minutes report is an "irresponsible, grossly misleading story."

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