Oct 30, 2012 News
-illegal airstrip was previously disabled
Local law enforcement agents and officials from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority are combing through an Ecuadorian aircraft. The plane was discovered at an illegal airstrip in the Rupununi region, and investigators are convinced that it was involved in illegal activities.
Works Minister Robeson Benn yesterday confirmed the discovery of the aircraft. He told reporters that authorities have seized it and are preparing to fly it to a more secure location for a thorough examination.
Security officials are still trying to locate the Brazilian pilot of the aircraft, Goncalo Ferreira Lima Neto, 42, who was alone on board. They want to ascertain what his true mission was.
According to Benn, the aircraft entered Guyana about two months ago on what he termed a technical stop, which he said is not unusual. Such stops may cause aircraft to require fuel and other services on the way to their destination.
“It was here some two months ago …We’ve been told that it required some maintenance work,” Minister Benn explained.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday Benn, in the presence of Civil Aviation Authority officials, explained to journalists that on Saturday the aircraft with the registration 8CCIK, departed the Ogle Airport, where it had undergone some maintenance, on a one and a half hour flight to Boa Vista, Brazil.
Three hours later, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority declared the aircraft missing and efforts to locate it along the planned fight path were unsuccessful on Saturday.
Some time Sunday morning the rescue coordination center was fully activated and the search for the aircraft intensified.
Minister Benn said that there was a report of the aircraft being in an area just south of Mahdia, Potaro.
Then contact was initiated by the pilot on Sunday morning but according to the Minister, there was some garbled explanation as to the location of the aircraft.
However, the information garnered was of little value in terms of locating the aircraft.
“And there was concern later in the day as to the activities of the aircraft, since the Air Traffic Controls and the rescue coordination centre’s vectoring of aircraft into various parts of Region Eight and where it was presumed that the aircraft was, were unsuccessful in terms of identifying the aircraft on the ground.”
By further vectoring towards the south of the flight path, in the Rupununi Region, authorities discovered the aircraft on an illegal airstrip east of Pirara, and according to Benn “activities of some great concern were underway.”
There were reports that vehicles were seen near the aircraft when it was first spotted suggesting that the stop was a well planned one.
“All that we are prepared to say is that he did not arrive where he should have arrived and the explanations that were given did not gel with what was seen in terms of the activity at the aircraft and also in terms of where he should have been when he called in yesterday (Sunday) morning.
The Minister said that as soon as this was relayed to senior security personnel, an operation was launched to seize the aircraft. This was achieved early yesterday morning.
The aircraft was completely painted over in a different colour and the number had also been changed.
“At the moment various law enforcement agencies including the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, are on sight conducting further examination of the aircraft,” Benn said.
He explained that as soon as pilots who are skilled in flying the high performance type, pressurized turbo Cessna 421 aircraft, ascertain its airworthiness, it will be brought to a secure location on the coast for a thorough search.
“We are suspicious about everything about this aircraft,” he said.
Minister Benn reiterated that the airstrip where the plane was found was an illegal one, which was disabled some time ago.
“It doesn’t mean that with some effort over a day or two that it could not be restored to some use,” the Minister stated.
He confirmed that the authorities had located at least two other illegal airstrips within recent times, both of which were also disabled.
He did not respond to queries about how often is official surveillance done to identify illegal airstrips in Guyana’s vast interior region.
“The Civil Aviation has a protocol with all pilots who fly all over the country that they must report any untoward or suspicious activity,” the Minister stated.
The Minister said that local officials have been in contact with the authorities in Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname with respect to the missing aircraft.
“All along the way we have been updating them with the status with respect to the aircraft…”
He said that Civil Aviation Authorities will be going through their records to ascertain if the plane had ever been in Guyana before.
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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