'Scary as hell': Allegiant flight to Richmond makes emergency landing
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Passengers described frightening moments 32,000 feet in the air on Monday morning, after an apparent engine issue created a loud bang and forced their Allegiant flight to Richmond to make an emergency landing in North Carolina.
"I felt like we were going down," said Meghan Estes, one of 146 on board Allegiant Air flight 848 traveling from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in Florida to Richmond. About an hour into the flight, something went terribly wrong.
"There was a really loud bang, and then the plane dropped a little. Immediately you could feel it," said Estes.
Other passengers described smelling smoke and noticed the flight attendants looking worried.
"Fire crews are around us to make sue there's nothing wrong with the engine," the pilot is heard saying on a recording by a passenger. It turned out the engine was precisely the problem.
"The safety of our passengers and crew is always our top priority. Our maintenance team is currently investigating the cause of the incident," Allegiant Air said in a statement. "All passengers will be refunded the flight segment air portion of their itinerary, receive refreshments at the gate, $100 vouchers for future travel and the ability to change their flight to a later date at no fee."
In a Facebook comment, NBC12 viewer Grace Morse Brumagin says she was a passenger on board the flight, and was able to speak with a mechanic who worked on the aircraft.
"He told us that there was a piece of rubber that got lodged in the engine probably before it took off. He said he never seen anything like it in 20 years," Brumagin writes. "He told us one blade in the engine disintegrated and took out all the other blades when we were at 33,000 feet. I can tell you it was scary as hell."
Tampa Bay has been inundated with storms and flooding rains in recent days. Brumagin says she's not sure if the storms had anything to do with the rubber getting into the engine before takeoff. She says the mechanic described it as a "freak accident."
This is the third incident in recent days involving an Allegiant Air flight. Last week. A flight had to make an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota, after the jet nearly ran out of fuel. Over the weekend, another Allegiant flight made an emergency landing in Las Vegas after one of its engines caught fire, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Within a six-month period, a report from the Aviation Mechanics Coalition shows more than 60 instances of mechanical issues. Within the report, the coalition states if the airline doesn't correct these problems, "they run the real risk of having an incident or accident that could result in loss of life." Allegiant responded to the report, claiming their safety record is among the best in the aviation industry.
In this case, these passengers are just happy to be home safe.
"It was really scary. I don't want to fly any time soon," said passenger, Nicole Rinehart.
Some passengers rented cars and drove home to Richmond. Others waited for hours for the rescheduled flight that would eventually get them in to Richmond safely at around 6:00 p.m.
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