More than three years after late night crash which left a Caribbean Airlines plane broken in two, a report has found pilots’ errors to have likely been the cause.
The findings were announced yesterday by the Ministry of Public Works, which overlooks the transport system in the country.
During a press conference at the Ministry’s Kingston offices, lead investigator, retired Deputy Chief Civil Aviation Officer, Paula McAdam, said that based on interviews and cockpit flight recorders, it was determined that the plane landed more than halfway on the main runway, with the pilots failing to activate enough braking pressure to stop the plane. It rammed through a fence at the end of the runway, before coming to a stop about 130 feet beyond the runway. The impact broke the plane in two.
Present at the media briefing yesterday were Minister Robeson Benn, lead investigator, Paula Mc Adam, Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Zulficar Mohamed, and other officials.
Included in the probe team were army pilots, Captains Patrick Nichols and Mike Charles, and other aviations from the region, US and Boeing.
The 737-800 Boeing plane, had departed Trinidad and Tobago on July 30, 2011 with 157 passengers and six crew members. It was set to land at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, just after midnight.
However, according to the Minister, reading excerpts of the report, the plane somehow landed almost 4700 feet further along the 7448-feet runway- that was more than halfway. There were slight rains which had no impact on the landing.
The damage to the plane was significant— beyond “economic repairs”, Benn said.
The most severe among the injured was one passenger who sustained a broken leg that had to be amputated.
The Minister said that it was concluded that with just about 2700 feet left of runway for the pilots to stop the plane, there could have been measures taken. There is no evidence of any mechanical defects.
The pilot never attempted to abort the landing nor did he activate the maximum braking power that could have stopped the plane. The investgigatrs said tha ythte pilot and the co-pilot were versed with landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The pilot was the more experienced with some 25 years flying experience, Ms McAdam said.
The officials made it clear that the sole intention of the report is to prevent future accidents and incidents and not to apportion blame or be used for liabilities.
According to Mc Adam, the team of investigators included local, regional and international experts.
Firefighters were onto the scene early, with an army ambulance the first to arrive.
The runway was closed for 10 hours before regulators cleared it for opening.
The investigators also took possession of the flight recorders and the plane removed by an engineering team from GCAA.
According to Mc Adam, herself a senior GCAA official who resigned last year, from the cockpit voice recorder, there seems not to be significant coordination between the pilot and co-pilot. Both were experienced pilots, who were familiar with CJIA’s conditions.
Mc Adam stressed the conclusions were all made based on what was presented to investigators.
Crewmembers and the pilots were among those interviewed.
There was no evidence that the crew had taken drugs or alcohol, the officials said.
Among some of the recommendations made were the beefing up of emergency response at CJIA and more training for CAL’s crew, the report said.
CAL, owned by the Trinidad Government, has been serving Guyana for decades.
There had been accusations, mostly in some sections in the Trinidad press, that the runway was too short.
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