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Allegiant Air criticized for emergency landing this summer

FARGO — The Federal Aviation Administration has reprimanded Allegiant Air for an emergency landing this summer at the Fargo airport minutes before the Blue Angels began practicing for the Fargo AirSho.

Allegiant said in a statement it has “implemented new procedures and training within the dispatch department” in light of the July 23 incident.

The company said Flight 426 from Las Vegas to Fargo was scheduled to land before a temporary flight restriction started in Fargo, but the flight was delayed when a passenger in Las Vegas got sick and needed to go to a hospital.

When the flight arrived in Fargo and prepared to land, the plane’s crew heard from air traffic control the airport was closed, the company said in a statement.

The plane was close to using reserve fuel when it negotiated an emergency landing at about 1 p.m., the company said, minutes before the Blue Angels started practicing for the July 25 air show.

The Blue Angels were forced to move to a holding area while the plane landed, according to the FAA.

The FAA said in a statement that Fargo’s temporary flight restrictions were publicized and that Allegiant’s “flight plan for the Fargo trip did not appear to have adequate fuel.”

“Allegiant, after the incident, instituted several improvements,” the FAA said. “The improvements are aimed at ensuring the carrier’s dispatch personnel are aware of all potential airspace restrictions. Additionally, the carrier will add the specific Fargo flight scenario to initial and recurrent dispatch classes.”

Daniel Wells, president of a union of Allegiant pilots, criticized the company for practices that he said have led to too many emergency landings.

“Pilots have been raising concerns about how Allegiant’s bare minimum approach has led to a high rate of emergency landings and diversions, and nowhere is this more apparent than the incident in Fargo,” Wells said in a statement. “As captains, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our passengers, but Allegiant executives Greg Baden and Michael Wuerger chose to put their passengers in a dangerous situation that was entirely avoidable.”

Baden, Allegiant’s vice president of operations, and Wuerger, director of flight safety, were piloting the plane, according to news reports.

WDAY contributed to this report.

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