Jun 01, 2018 News
…hides local content obligations from GCAA
Aurora Gold Mine had told the nation – via advertisements and letters – that it did not feel safe with the services provided by the local airlines. It opted to import its own plane and pilots to access its hinterland operations. However, the company did not communicate those safety concerns to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) when it made the application for the aircraft.
The company did not notify the GCAA of its local content obligations to Guyana, and GCAA granted the company permission to operate its Canadian-registered Twin Otter here.
Director General of the GCAA, Egbert Field, confirmed this during an interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, after he would have perused the company’s files. He stated that the company was approved to conduct flights in Guyana’s interior on December 6, 2017.
“They brought this aircraft and said this here is the company aircraft and they would like permission to fly here,” Field explained. There was no mention of the safety concerns.
After revelations by Kaieteur News that local aviation operators were kicked out by the company, a letter from an “AGM aviation employee” appeared in the press supporting the company’s position on the use of the foreign-registered plane.
The letter stated, “Please take note that the entry of this aircraft was made at the time when there were myriad aircraft accidents and incidents involving various local operators.
“As such this decision was induced by the concern for the safety of our approximately 800-plus local and 30 expatriate workers.”
Under contract with Guyana, Aurora has to meet very strict local content obligations.
In the case of the Twin Otter, the company has contracted Canadian Flyers World Aviation Services, based in Ontario, to provide flight crew services.
Field was asked if the aviation authority considered the company’s local content obligations.
The GCAA Chief stated that this was not considered when the application was processed.
“It was submitted to us that the aircraft is being used in the company’s interest. That is the story. We don’t deal with contractual obligations. They must know how they will deal with the [local] companies they have contracted.
“We deal with the company, Aurora Gold. The aircraft is a private aircraft for the company and that is how we looked at it,” Field stated.
He was asked whether the operation of the Twin Otter should be looked at on a commercial basis since the company was essentially replacing local commercial operators.
“They applied as a private company; why should I tell them (Aurora Gold Mine) they are doing commercial flights. This airplane is a private airplane doing private flights,” Field defended.
NO LOCAL PILOT
In the midst of a firestorm regarding the use of local goods and services, Aurora boasted of hiring local pilots. However, Field stated that no Guyanese pilot living here is licensed to fly the Canadian-registered plane.
This is so because the state of the license of the crew has to be same as the registration of the aircraft.
A local must be certified by Canada to be able to fly the company’s plane since it is registered in Canada.
“No Guyanese in Guyana is qualified to fly the Twin Otter at this time. They [local pilots] may have flown Twin Otters in the past, but after not flying an aircraft for two years you have to do the entire type rating course to qualify to have a rating to fly that aircraft.
The company’s hiring of local pilots is not by accident. As part of the GCAA approval, the company is mandated to have a local experienced pilot onboard until the Canadian crew has attained sufficient flight time in Guyana’s hinterland.
Observers have outlined to Kaieteur News that this allows for the transfer of Guyanese expertise of hinterland flights to the Canadian crew.
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