Jan 23, 2014 News
… GCAA teams up with foreign bodies on investigation
Now that the search and rescue aspect is over, and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has taken charge of the ill-fated Trans Guyana Cessna Caravan that went down mid-Saturday morning, critical aircraft components, including the shuttle’s engine is expected to be removed from the crash site today and sent back to its manufacturer in Canada to be striped.
This is part of the investigation procedure, GCAA’s General Director, Zulficar Mohamed stated. At a press conference yesterday, hosted by the GCAA head and Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, media personnel were informed that investigators will early this morning be making their way via helicopter, back to unfriendly terrain where the wrecked single engine light aircraft is located.
Mohamed reiterated to the media that no pronouncement could be made at this early stage as to what would have caused the crash that took the life of 25-year-old Canadian-born pilot, Captain Blake Slater and his third crew member, 28-year-old Dwayne Jacobs.
The light craft bearing registration 8R-GHS, went down in the harsh, hilly and densely forested Mazaruni, Region Seven area; in the flight path of Olive Creek to Imbaimadai. Reports are that a distress signal was heard by aircraft in the immediate interior location and was further received at approximately 10:56 hours by the Ogle Aviation Tower. The recipient of the “mayday” call was only able to receive the latitude coordinates which forced aviation authorities to assume a possible crash site since the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal, a device that can be manually or automatically activated to transmit a distress signal to a satellite, was absent.
The plane was however located after noon on Sunday last, about four kilometers from Olive Creek, from where it had taken off. Army agents found that both the plane’s occupants had perished.
Poor lighting, the location of the bodies and the degree of damage to the aircraft forced Special Forces Officers to abandon their body extraction mission until Tuesday. The deceased were flown to the city on Wednesday morning.
Minister Benn has however informed that several agencies, including Transport Canada, the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States, the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority Suriname (CASAS) and the aircraft and engine manufacturer, Pratt and Whitney, have indicated their willingness to provide assistance in carrying out the investigations.
Transport Canada will be overseeing the stripping of the aircraft’s engine on behalf of the GCAA Mohamed said, adding that a report, and interpretation, if needed, will be provided by the agency.
It was said also that investigators will first be seeking to locate the ELT system to ascertain why the signal was not activated; and if found to be faulty it will be sent back to the manufacturers as part of the investigation procedure. “The system will be sent back to the manufacturer if it is found to be faulty, and they will further investigate and report on that aspect, especially where in incidents and accidents, those new 406 megahertz ELTS have not triggered,” Mohamed noted.
This occurrence is not unique to Guyana, the GCAA head informed, noting that other countries are experiencing difficulty with the device and therefore “that matter has to be engaged on holistic grounds.”
Apart from the technical aspect, Mohamed informed that identifying and interviewing material witnesses to the crash have commenced, while the necessary documentation and photographic evidence of the site has been taken for analysis.
The speedy conclusion of Saturday’s plane crash depends on how soon the necessary information could be obtained, Mohamed said. Investigators will have to wait on certain information that has to be supplied by foreign agencies.
Minister Benn also used yesterday’s press conference to congratulate rescue teams for an effort which he said went, “extremely well.” He did clarify that the army’s Bell 412 was unable to be part of Saturday’s search and rescue operation as a result of maintenance work, “ not that it could not be flown, but flying would have posed a risk,” the Minister informed.
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