On some budget airline flights in the U.S, something smells fishy — and it’s not the in-flight meals. It’s aircraft maintenance and what appears to be, at the very least, lax oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some even go so far to imply outright collusion and attempts to bury the problem at the FAA, and a Florida Senator is calling for a full-blown investigation of the matter. At the center of the storm are Allegiant Air, which serves several Kentucky cities, and its primary maintenance provider, AAR Aircraft Services, a division of AAR Corp, one of North America’s largest aviation service providers and also a contractor of some of its services to the U.S. Government. This simmering investigation by the media was first uncovered by the Tampa Bay Times in 2017 and was later joined by several installments on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the most recent airing being in mid-April, 2018. “60 Minutes“ revealed that little had changed in the ensuing year after the Times began publishing its investigation showing Allegiant’s planes were four times as likely to fail during flight as those operated by other major U.S. airlines; other research focused on the FAA’s lax oversight of Allegiant (and its outsourced maintenance provider AAR Aircraft). At the center of the story was Allegiant Flight 436. On August 17, 2015, it experienced a dangerous engine malfunction during takeoff. Though the takeoff was safely aborted without serious injuries, the FAA investigator in charge of the incident reported that the plane never should have been flying. Records later revealed that over a period of time AAR had completely skipped several maintenance procedures and botched critical inspections of the plane – a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 more than 20 years old. “Every stop-gap in place to enhance safety to a critical flight control was skipped, bypassed or improperly done,” according to inspector Carlos Flores’ FAA official incident report. He recommended that AAR be fined the maximum amount possible, to prevent “similar potential tragedies” in the future. Even though one FAA manager acknowledged Flores’ belief that “the conditions that created the safety risk originally hadn’t changed” at AAR, the agency didn’t fine the maintenance company; nor did the Administration demand any changes in AAR’s aircraft maintenance that would directly address inspectors’ concerns; nor did the FAA assign any further investigation of this specific incident. All it did was write AAR a “letter of correction;” then signed off on the matter before closing the case with a news release that said the problem had been solved.