LAS VEGAS (AP) - A California-bound Allegiant flight was evacuated in Las Vegas after an engine caught fire on the tarmac, the second plane fire at the airport in as many months and the latest in a string of issues for the low-fare carrier.
Allegiant Air flight 516 was preparing to take off for Fresno at McCarran International Airport Sunday afternoon when a fire was reported in the right engine.
None of the 160 passengers and six crew members was injured. All were bused back to the terminal and passengers were put on a different plane that later departed Las Vegas.
The airline said the pilot aborted takeoff and reported the fire as the plane was rolling down the runway after indications of a mechanical issue. The plane taxied to a remote area and was met by firefighters.
Christine Crews, a McCarran spokeswoman, said 11 firefighters from the Clark County Fire Department put out the fire within 30 seconds of the response. Emergency slides were deployed but passengers used the stairs at the back of the plane to avoid the risk of the slides, such as burns and bruises.
“The fire was out,” Crews said. “There wasn’t imminent threat of harm.”
The incident did not disrupt the airport’s operations and all runways stayed open and functional.
The airline said it is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is gathering information but has not launched an investigation.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 plane registered to the carrier was built in 1991 and was most recently certified in March 2011. The engine was made by Pratt & Whitney, according to the FAA. Boeing is the parent company of the MD-80.
Sunday’s fire is the latest in a string of issues for the Vegas-based company in recent months and comes after a British Airways plane caught fire at the airport in September.
A British Airways’ London-bound plane halted on the runway as it was preparing to take off on Sept. 8 after an engine caught fire. All 157 passengers and 13 crew members survived, some with minor injuries.
For Allegiant, a possible maintenance issue was cited in September when a flight from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Las Vegas was diverted to an airport in southern Utah. Another Allegiant flight made an emergency landing in July at a closed airport in Fargo, North Dakota, after company executives piloting the aircraft reported they were nearly out of fuel. In June, flights at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in Florida were cancelled after one of its planes was forced to make an emergency landing because of pressurization problems.
In 2013, Allegiant grounded its MD-80s for days to check and service exit chutes after acknowledging it missed a 2007 manufacturer’s recommendation to overhaul chutes every year instead of every three years.
The airline defended its safety record Monday, saying in a statement: “Safety is, above all, our top priority. Our safety record remains among the best in the industry.”
The airline has also faced ongoing labor disputes with pilots and flight attendants, with a federal judge this year barring Allegiant pilots from striking.
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