An Allegiant Airlines pilot has been fired after an incident at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport. Allegiant claims that the pilot endangered all passengers and crew aboard a flight while the pilot contends that he was acting in the interest of everyone’s safety. A lawsuit recently filed by the pilot may decide which party has the law on their side.
Pilot Jason Kinzer had been working for Allegiant for three years, having been promoted to pilot in December 2014. Since that time, he maintained a clean record without any safety violations. In June, he was piloting a twin-engine MD-80 out of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. Nearly 150 passengers and crew members were on board. It wasn’t long after takeoff that Kinzer received a phone call from one of the flight attendants. Kinzer described her as being frantic. It seemed that several passengers were smelling smoke in the cabin.
Thinking quickly, Kinzer turned the plane around and made an uneventful landing at the airport they had just left. Emergency personnel met the plane on the runway, quickly confirming that one of the engines was on fire. Kinzer ordered the evacuation of the aircraft. Inflatable slides were deployed and everyone left the plane. However, before the evacuation took place, Kinzer received a strange transmission over the radio from an unidentified person who suggested that evacuation was unnecessary. Kinzer asked who was speaking but did not receive a reply. The evacuation commenced. However, four passengers were injured while leaving the aircraft via the slide.
Kinzer waited for several weeks while Allegiant investigated the incident. Eventually, he received a telephone call telling him that he was being terminated for putting the lives of the passengers in jeopardy unnecessarily. Allegiant’s officials didn’t believe the evacuation was warranted, especially in view of the injuries sustained by the four passengers.
It is likely that the lawsuit may bring to light some additional information which might help better understand Allegiant’s actions in this matter.