Civil Aviation boss not committing to release reports on local aircraft accidents

Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulfikar Mohammed has declined to commit either his agency or the government to a policy of making the findings of investigations into local aviation incidents public.

This posture now puts the GCAA sharply at odds with one of the country’s most experienced aviators.

Questioned earlier this week by the Stabroek Business on the issue of placing reports on such investigations in the public domain and other matters pertaining to key protocols and practices associated with safety and accident investigation in the sector, Mohammed disclosed

Zulfikar Mohammed
Zulfikar Mohammed

that Transport Minister Robeson Benn had said that government intends to publicise the 2011 Caribbean Airlines crash report. However, when questioned on whether government would agree to adopt a similar posture with regard to reports on investigations involving aircraft operating within Guyana, Mohammed declined to comment.

Last week, Roraima Airways Chief Executive Officer Gerry Gouveia had told Stabroek Business that he believed all accident reports involving local carriers should be made public. Earlier this week, Gouveia reacted sharply to the position taken by the GCAA Head, insisting that making the reports public was “in the interest of both the sector and the public.”

On Tuesday, Gouveia said the GCAA Head’s disclosure on the report of the 2011 CAL accident at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) had “absolutely nothing” to do with his pronouncement on the desirability of placing investigations into “local situations” out there.

“That disclosure is not even remotely close to addressing what is desirable,” Gouveia said. “In fact, it appears like a distraction. I made it clear in my interview with the Stabroek Business that what we are looking for is a situation in which official reports on all accidents, incidents and occurrences involving domestic flights originating and terminating in Guyana are subject to full disclosure to the public. Of course it is a good thing that we will have access to the report on the CAL accident, but that is not really connected to what we are asking for,” Gouveia added.

Mohammed told Stabroek Business that investigations were currently ongoing into various relatively recent aviation incidents, but was adamant that he would not comment on whether or not the reports would be made public.

This week, Gouveia confirmed that the “particular concern” of his earlier comment had to do with domestic flights. “I recall making the point that the value of making those accident investigation reports public was that the information gleaned from those reports may well avoid other incidents. That is a more than good enough reason for making the reports public,” Gouveia said.  However, when asked about time frames for the completion of reports Gouveia said it would be imprudent for him to comment on the time frames for aircraft accident investigations, “given all of the painstaking work that has to go into such investigations.”

Differences also appear to exist between the GCAA and the Roraima boss over the issue of whether the Authority should investigate accidents, incidents and occurrences and whether the GCAA is adequately equipped to undertake search and rescue operations. Gouveia had told Stabroek Business a week ago that he believed investigations ought not to be conducted by GCAA “given the fact that the Authority itself might, in some cases, be the subject of investigation.” This week, however, Mohammed told this newspaper that the Authority was “obligated” to conduct such investigations. While he conceded that the Authority itself could become the subject of investigation he said that in such cases it would be “the government’s call” to determine what would happen.

On the issue of the GCAA’s search and rescue capacity, Mohammed said that several functionaries in the entity had undergone training in “search and rescue coordination.”

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