US review of Kopinang crash aircraft completed

The US National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its strip assessment of engines and other parts of the Air Services Limited (ASL) aircraft which claimed the lives of three persons when it crashed near Kopinang last year.

The Britten Norman Islander plane lost contact with the Ogle Airstrip Control Tower just prior to its scheduled touchdown at Kopinang, 170 miles away. Bernice Pereira, a resident of Kopinang, and her four-year-old son Arnold were the only survivors of the crash which killed Bernice’s three-month-old daughter Britney; pilot, Captain Rohan Sharma and Ernestine Moses also of Kopinang.

Head of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulficar Mohammed told Stabroek News that it has been in contact with the NTSB and the report from the assessment is to be completed and dispatched shortly. He also said that the reports would have to be submitted to Minister of Transport Robeson Benn. ASL would also be involved. “Once we have the report, the minister will examine it and coming to the conclusion of the examination the airline would be involved, since sometimes we involve them and ask for their support,” he said.

Mohammed said the purpose of the report is to ensure that systems are put in place to ensure that no areas are overlooked and to prevent them from recurring. He explained that the authority does not form any grounds for litigation but the onus is on preventing recurrences of the April 25 incident and ensuring adherence to all aviation laws. Based on the findings of the report too the GCAA will be in a better position to advise the airline accordingly, he said.

ASL General Manager Fazel Khan on Tuesday told this newspaper that the airline has not received any information on the status of the NTSB assessment. However, he confirmed that Pereira and the relatives of the other victims have been given compensation packages.

According to reports, the ASL plane was scheduled to fly to Kato then on to Kopinang and Mahdia before returning to Ogle. After spending two hours on the ground at Kato because of bad weather, the GCAA had said the aircraft departed at about 1.45 pm and this was the last time the tower had had any contact with it. Rescue efforts to locate the aircraft, after it was suspected missing, were stymied by bad weather.

The rescue co-ordination centre at the CJIA Timehri Control Tower was activated and the supporting agencies; the Guyana Defence Force Air Corps and Special Forces and the aircraft operator, formulated a search and rescue plan which was executed a day later. After intense search operations both by air and on foot, a group of schoolboys spotted Pereira on a trail the following day and the crash site was eventually located and the other victims found.

Reports on aviation crashes are not usually made available to the public.

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