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Pilot Forced to Beg & Argue With Airport Tower to Make Emergency Landing

Allegiant confirmed an emergency landing at Hector International Airport during a temporary closing of the airspace.

Allegiant Air Flight 426 from McCarran International Airport (LAS) to Hector International Airport (FAR) declared a fuel emergency on July 23 and landed safely at FAR, but not without complications.

In an email statement to FlyerTalk regarding G4 426, an MD-80 with 142 passengers and two lap children onboard, Allegiant said it determined that, at the time of departure, a Federal Aviation Administration notice signaled that FAR remained open.

“The information that our pilot had at the time of departure indicated that the airport was open to receiving scheduled air service,” wrote the airline.

CBS News reported that the FAA said the Blue Angels were practicing at the airport and a temporary flight restriction covered the airspace from noon to 5 p.m.

“The Fargo airport management had notified airlines of the planned airspace closure, practice and air show as far back as December, and NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) were issued 72 hours in advance,” the FAA said, as reported by CBS. “It is a requirement for pilots to review NOTAMs before flight.”

According to an audio recording posted by LiveATC.com, an air-traffic controller told the pilot he would have to wait 40 minutes to land or divert about 70 miles to Grand Forks.

“I’m kind of surprised here,” the pilot said. “We weren’t told ahead of time … There’s no way they can pull them (the Blue Angels) off and let us land in there?”

“Your company should have been aware of this for a number of months,” the tower controller said.

“Ok, we’ll follow up on that,” the pilot responded.

“The aircraft was dispatched with enough fuel for the trip and with sufficient reserve, in accordance with company standards and in full compliance with all FAA regulations,” Allegiant told FlyerTalk. “Upon approach to Fargo, the pilot was advised that they would not be able to land at the airport and spent approximately 18 minutes attempting to coordinate a landing clearance with air traffic control.”

Allegiant said the pilot decided to declare an emergency, allowing the flight to land immediately at Fargo instead of continuing attempts to coordinate a landing, which would have caused the aircraft to begin burning the 45 minutes of reserve fuel. The flight landed safely at 1:02 p.m. CDT with approximately 42 minutes fuel remaining.

[Photo: iStock]


Comments are Closed.
flyerCO September 15, 2015

Should be noted there should have been no problem getting to GFK. FARs require the plane to have enough fuel to fly to their destination, onward to their alternative (which would be GFK), plus enough to fly for 45 minutes after that. Thus if they only had 42 minutes of fuel left upon landing in FAR, they never had a legal amount to begin with.

gqZJzU4vusf0Z2,$d7 August 3, 2015

> the TFR did not allow scheduled air carriers into the airspace Incorrect. The NOTAM specifically permitted Part 121 Air Carrier ops at Fargo during this period.

Bonanza36 July 31, 2015

If you listened to the tapes, they pilot did not beg and argue with the tower. Their was a brief discussion, and the crew declared an emergency with Center, and was promptly cleared to land by ATC. The crew was aware of the NOTAMd closure, and TFR over the field. Their original departure time would have them landing before the NOTAM went into effect, however a late departure put them in FAR well afterwards. They landed with 42 minutes fuel, not leaving them with enough fuel to divert to GFK, just 63 nm miles away, with an Allegiant station. This was poor planning, as the TFR did not allow scheduled air carriers into the airspace, and was scheduled months in advance.

joecool1885 July 31, 2015

Another COMPLETELY misleading headline. Seriously FT, get your act together! They didn't beg and argue to make an emergency landing, they pressured the tower to let them land despite a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction), and when the tower didn't agree, they declared an emergency.