Allegiant MD-83 Diverts to Knoxville Because of Faulty Indicator Light
An Allegiant Air flight traveling to Flint, Michigan (FNT) on Monday morning was diverted to Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS) after a warning light illuminated in the cockpit.
Allegiant Flight 676 departed Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) just after 9:00am on Monday. About one hour into the flight, the aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (registration N876GA), began descending quickly from 32,000 feet before eventually landing at TYS at about 10:20am.
According to an Allegiant Air spokesperson, a heat sensor light in the cargo compartment tripped an indicator light in the cockpit. The flight was diverted "out of an abundance of caution," the spokesperson said. However, it was later discovered that the indicator light was not functioning correctly.
The aircraft, with 150 passengers and six crew on board, landed at TYS with no issue.
"We had just gotten up to cruising altitude and we heard a big bang," said passenger Caley McCarthy. The captain then reportedly told passengers that the aircraft would be landing in Knoxville. "I've certainly never descended from 30,000 feet in a plane that quickly, ever," McCarthy said. "The kids in the plane, a lot of them were crying and upset because we were going down so fast [that] the cabin pressure was changing too quickly for their ears to keep up with."
Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 shows the aircraft descended from 31,950 feet to 12,855 feet within five minutes.
An Allegiant spokesperson said that upon its arrival, the mechanics of the aircraft were fine — despite passenger reports of a loud bang. An alternative aircraft, an Airbus A320 (registration N233NV), was brought in to bring the passengers from TYS to their final destination of Flint (FNT). The flight departed TYS just before 5:00pm — about 6.5 hours after arriving.
Monday's diversion comes just a couple of weeks after a damaging "60 Minutes" report surfaced, identifying Allegiant as a carrier with a shaky safety record with an alarming number of aborted takeoffs, emergency descents, unscheduled landings and more.
According to PlaneSpotters.net, the MD-83 used to operated Allegiant Flight 676 on Monday (N876GA) is almost 23 years old. Before being delivered to Allegiant Air in August 2005, it was first used by Korean Air Lines beginning in July 1995. After a one-month stint under the ownership of Boeing Aircraft Holding Company between October and November 2002, the aircraft was operated by the now-defunct Canadian low-cost carrier Jetsgo before being purchased by Allegiant and beginning operations in August 2005.