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Aircraft owners `shocked’ at Edghill’s intervention on plane incidents

July 20 ,2021

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The incident involving the BK Aviation Caravan #8R-ABK which occurred on 2021-07-14 about 11:40hrs at the Eteringbang Airstrip.

The incident involving the BK Aviation Caravan #8R-ABK which occurred on 2021-07-14 about 11:40hrs at the Eteringbang Airstrip.

While voicing concern at two recent incidents involving planes at interior airstrips, the  Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) has expressed shock at the reported intervention and statements by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill.

The first incident occurred on Wednesday (14th July, 2021) on the Eteringbang runway in Region Seven and the other on Thursday (15th July, 2021) on the Kamarang runway in the same Cuyuni/Mazaruni district.

The Association in a statement yesterday said that it expects that the established procedure for aircraft accident investigation would have been implemented and for appropriate action to be taken accordingly.

“The Association is, however, shocked at the reported intervention and public statements made in the press on the matter on Friday, 16th July, 2021, issued through the Department of Public Information, in which the Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, is reported as having `ordered that the operators be served with notices of suspension with immediate effect’.

“The Association can only conclude that the Minister has been inappropriately advised on this matter in the absence of the Director General, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field, who was on leave at the time”, the aircraft owners said.

The Association said it has also observed that the Minister was reported as expressing his concern about mercury being carried on board one of the aircraft in question and that “the aviation service was not authorized to transport” this cargo. However, the AOAG said that all the major aircraft operators are certified to carry dangerous goods like mercury, gasoline and diesel, and they undergo a rigorous process to be qualified to do so. “In the circumstances, the Association must point out for the benefit of the travelling public, that all commercial aircraft operations in Guyana are rigidly regulated and required to meet extremely high standards both in regard to pilot training and qualification and aircraft maintenance in order to obtain an Aircraft Operators Certificate (AOC).

“Guyana’s aviation industry, in fact, enjoys a record for one of the highest safety ratings in the Caribbean region, while operating out of the busiest airport in the region and in an extremely challenging and hostile hinterland aviation environment with minimum infrastructural support.

“We are extremely proud that our industry is evidentially, statistically, the safest it has been for decades. Thanks to the sterling work of the Director General of Civil Aviation and his team, Guyana’s aviation industry has achieved over the last five (5) years the highest level of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) national compliance”, the AOAG said.

The AOAG noted that at a Budget Stakeholders Meeting in February this year with Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh it made a recommendation  that the Budget provide sufficient funding to meet the urgent demand for hinterland airstrip rehabilitation and development. The Association said it asked at that time, for a list of the government’s choice of airstrips to benefit from this programme.  The Association said it subsequently wrote the Minister of Public Works welcoming the receipt from the GCAA of twenty-one hinterland airstrips designated for this programme and requested that the Association be afforded the opportunity to work in partnership with the Ministry by placing its expertise and experience at the disposal of the Ministry in the implementation of this programme. The Association said that its letter to the Minister underlined that it was essential that “the rehabilitation and improvement of these Airstrips are planned to meet the specific requirements of the aircraft which use them and that these works are designed to comply with ICAO Annex 14 standards with respect to length, width, surface preference, obstacle clearances, fencing and parking ramp, which, unfortunately, have not always been the case”.

The AOAG said that the letter underscored the fact that frequent rehabilitation of these airstrips in the past had been substandard and carried out by unqualified and incompetent contractors. The AOAG  letter specifically mentioned the Eteringbang and Ekereku Bottom airstrips. The Association said it looks forward to meeting with the Minister in regard to its proposals.

It added that it is committed to working in partnership with the government for a more comprehensive consultative relationship from which a growing and expanding aviation industry would be the major beneficiary.

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