An Allegiant Air Boeing MD-82 carrying a college football team to a game in Missouri struck runway end lights and appears to have overran the runway before taking off from Runway 15 at the Lake Charles Regional airport in Louisiana in a cloud of dust and debris the afternoon of 10 September.

According to airport officials who witnessed the event, Allegiant Flight 4105 (N887GA) broke down one runway end light, markers that extend 20-25cm (8-10in) above the ground, and knocked the lens out of another light before leaving what appears to be a rut in the grass approximately 7.6m (25ft) long. The runway is 1,981m (6,500ft )long.

"When it got toward the end of the runway, we heard a loud pop and saw a debris field of grass and dirt about 60m in the air," says one witness. "Sight of the aircraft was lost in the dust cloud; shortly after the aircraft reappeared and continued on its departure."

 allegiant tire debris
 Tire debris from Allegiant Flight 4105 at Lake Charles airport

Fire and rescue teams, which are required to monitor all charter flights at the airport involving larger aircraft such as Allegiant's MD-82, drove to the runway end to investigate, finding the broken lights and debris from a tire approximately 61m past the runway 15 end. Debris was also kicked back on the runway for approximately 180m.

 missing light
 Missing runway end light and tire marks

Fire officials called the air traffic control tower to report finding the debris, which in turn alerted the Allegiant crew en route to Columbia, Missouri for a McNeece State University football game. Pilots decided to make a precautionary landing in Tunica, Mississippi, where the aircraft's left outboard tire was found to be shredded after landing.

According to an FAA spokesman, an inspection of the aircraft in Tunica revealed damage to the flaps, accessories in the main landing gear well and engine cowling, though it is unclear at what point the equipment was damaged.

Allegiant says the aircraft was carrying 136 passengers and five crew members. The aircraft is currently out of service and has been ferried to Jacksonville for repairs, says the airline, adding that its investigation of the situation is underway.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news