Oct 31, 2012 News Comments Off on Illegal aircraft found on airstrip…Sale was being arranged
-investigators interested in Jamaican pilot
Investigators have expressed an interest in a Jamaican pilot, as they continue to probe the discovery of a Cessna 421 aircraft on an illegal airstrip near Pirara, Region Nine, a day after it took off from the Ogle Airport en route to Brazil.
Kaieteur News understands that the Jamaican, who previously had links to the Ogle Airport, could provide investigators with clues as to the ownership of the plane and the real reason for it being in Guyana for the past two months.
From all indications the aircraft may have been brought to Guyana for the purpose of selling it to a local buyer.
Local officials have reportedly found nothing illegal on the aircraft, during an initial examination at the site where it was located on Sunday.
On Monday, Transport Minister Robeson Benn had told a press conference that the aircraft had entered Guyana from Trinidad, 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.
However, that explanation differs from the one given by John Isaacs, a senior official of the Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Services (CAMS), a company operating at the Ogle Airport.
According to the official, the aircraft arrived in Guyana under the pretext that there was a local buyer and that it required a pre-purchaser inspection.
Isaacs said that his company, through the Jamaican pilot, was contracted to conduct the examination, and this was done.
“That was all we were required to do, no maintenance was done,” the CAMS official told this newspaper.
The plane remained at the Ogle Airport until it departed for its intended destination of Boa Vista, Brazil, on Saturday.
When contacted yesterday, a senior official of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority said he was unaware of the proposed sale arrangement and planned to check it out.
This newspaper was informed by another local aviation authority official that the purchase deal might have fallen through after proper documentation for the aircraft was not provided to the prospective buyer.
The complete repainting and the changing of the registration number, mere hours after it had left the Ogle Airport, supports the theory that arrangements were being made to sell the aircraft.
Investigators will be checking on whether the aircraft was actually stolen prior to it arriving in Guyana or if there was an attempt to steal it after it left the Ogle Airport.
Its Brazilian pilot, Goncalo Ferreira Lima Neto, 42, who was alone on board the craft when it left Ogle, has vanished, raising the suspicions of local aviation and security officials.
“We are suspicious about everything about this aircraft,” Minister Benn had told journalists on Monday.
He said that the aircraft was to be flown to a secure location on the coast where it will undergo further examination.
This newspaper learnt that an attempt was made yesterday to remove the aircraft from the illegal airstrip, but smoke was observed coming from the engines after it took off and landed at another airstrip.
Minister Benn had disclosed that the illegal airstrip was previously identified and disabled.
Kaieteur News was reliably informed that the airstrip where the aircraft was found is about 6000 feet, longer than the small runway at the Ogle Airport.
“It should have been detected,” a local aviation expert opined.
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