Aug 11, 2017 News
By Murtland Haley
As investigations into the two recent plane crashes close to the Eteringbang airstrip have begun, efforts are being made to have the engines belonging to the two aircraft shipped to their manufacturers to assist in the investigations.
This is according to Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Col. Egbert Field. The GCAA head, during a press conference yesterday, was asked to give an update on the status of the investigations.
He said that the investigations are ongoing and being conducted by the Accident Investigation Group, which is a separate unit from the GCAA, but supported by personnel from within the Authority.
“We have commenced those investigations and they are at a preliminary stage, especially the accident earlier this week, is at a preliminary stage at this time. We have secured the engines for the first accident – that should be shipped out to the manufacturers, and all this is a part of the investigation.”
He said that as it relates to the most recent accident, presently the investigator is at the location securing the engine to ship it out to Georgetown for further transportation to the manufacturer.
Fields said that there are no preliminary findings at this time. He said that the first of the two accidents took place when the aircraft was approaching the airstrip while the second happened after the aircraft took-off from the runway.
“We do not have any findings as yet, but we are hoping that we can come to a definite position as to what caused the accidents. As I said, investigations are ongoing and we have to look at a number of areas. We have to look at the equipment, we have to look at weather conditions, we also have to look at the human factors involved, not discounting any one of them, and as we drill down, we will be able to ascertain what the cause of each accident was.”
When asked about safety in the aviation sector concerning the age of aircraft, Field said that the age of the aircraft is not of major concern, since they were made to last as long as 50 years. He said that the Authority concerns itself predominantly with the quality of maintenance for the aircraft.
“And that’s the reason why we have inspectors who go out and undertake surveillance exercises looking at the maintenance organisations…also, ensuring that the individuals or the personnel within the organisation are properly qualified.”
Field explained that each year an aircraft has to apply for a certificate of ‘air worthiness’. He said that in that application a number of documents have to be presented relating to maintenance of the aircraft and equipment in the aircraft. He said that those documents are reviewed coupled with a physical inspection of the aircraft by the Authority.
“So if at Ogle, we have 70 or 80 aircraft, you can rest assured that each aircraft, at least once a year is inspected by the inspectors of the Civil Aviation Authority.”
Field said that if operators do not comply, licenses as well as other relevant documents are revoked. However, he did indicate that no such revocation has occurred although there have been infringements which he described as minor.
“We don’t just go pulling licenses or certificates. We make sure we complete a thorough investigation before we take the decision.”
The two accidents which are to be investigated by the GCAA occurred on July 25 and August 8, last. The first accident claimed the life of 40-year-old Roraima Airways’ Chief Pilot Collin Winston Martin.
He was piloting a Britten-Norman Islander aircraft when he was attempting to land at the Eteringbang Airstrip and nose-dived into thick vegetation. The area where the accident occurred was described as dangerous terrain by Field.
Concerning the accident three days ago, that aircraft was a single engine Cessna plane being piloted by 32-year-old Captain Dominic Waddell of Wing’s Aviation who was on a shuttling mission from Eteringbang to Ekereku. Waddell suffered minor injuries. Based on information received, Waddell’s plane just dropped out of the sky seconds after taking off from the airstrip.
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