Twenty plane crashes in ten years, seven deaths Recommendations made

All of the local aircraft accidents between 1996 and 2006 have been investigated, and in some instances, recommendations were made and adhered to by aircraft owners, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) head Zulficar Mohammed said.

Transport Minister Robeson Benn on Wednesday released to the media the GCAA report, which revealed that during that period there were 20 accidents resulting in seven fatalities. After investigation by the GCAA, some of the Commercial Pilot Licences (CPL) were suspended and in some cases the aircraft operators received warning letters.

Asked how the GCAA was able to ensure that the aircraft owners accepted recommendations and made required changes, Mohammed said this has not been an issue for the authority, since the aircraft owners are generally receptive to its recommendations.

“Generally they do not flout any sanctions. They are responsible enough,” he said.

He explained that in cases where licences are suspended, the towers are advised and usually there is adherence.

In 1996, there were three aircraft accidents, none of which was fatal.

According to the report, the first accident involved a Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) Islander plane, which crashed at the Holitipu Airstrip in the Hinterland. Investigations revealed that the aircraft was operated into an airstrip at which repair work was in progress and the persons responsible for the airstrip had failed to notify the aircraft operator that work was in progress.

This accident was followed by another in September in which an Air Services Limited (ASL) Islander crashed at Hampton Court, Essequibo. There was also no fatality in this accident said to be caused by hydroplaning and it was recommended that the pilot Justus Rinnert undergo a refresher ground course in hydroplane techniques at the Guyana School of Aviation. Rinnert’s CPL was also suspended.

At the end of 1996, a Cessna belonging to Ayube Mazaharally crash-landed immediately after takeoff from the Monkey Mountain airstrip after it suffered engine failure. The GCAA recommended that the pilot complete the type technical examination and redo the flight check before flying that type in any capacity. Mazaharally was piloting the plane and his CPL was suspended.

The GCA recorded three aircraft accidents in 1997, two less than a month apart. In March, a Guyana Defence Force Bell Helicopter made a hard landing, but there was no fatality or injury.

In June, a Thrush aircraft belonging to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) was involved in an accident and the investigation showed it was owing to the failure of the pilot to adequately maintain clearance between his aircraft and obstacles on the ground. GCAA’s report said Guysuco management was apprised of their contributing to an environment conducive to an accident. As a result, Pilot Paul Vandeyar’s CPL was suspended for a period of 14 days.

In May, an ASL Cessna crashed in Kurupung after it overran the runway and overturned in a gorge some 80 feet from the end of the runway.

The report said the aircraft was substantially damaged.

Bell Helicopter

According to the GCAA report, there were five accidents in 1998, the first of which involved the Guyana Defence Force Bell Helicopter at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in January in which one passenger died and another three as well as a crew member were injured.

This accident, the report said, was caused by the presence of unsecured matting on the apron. The GDF was required by the GCAA to remove the mat immediately and was required to formulate and implement a schedule designed to ensure that foreign object debris is controlled.

The report also recommended that the GDF formulate and implement written procedures for its pilots’ guidance when engaging in the commercial carriage of passengers, mail and cargo. It recommended too that the pilot be made aware of his role in failing to prevent what could have been a preventable accident by simple forethought. “This may take the form of a letter detailing the findings with regard to his involvement in contributing to circumstances leading up to the creation of an environment conducive to the accident,” the report stated.

In addition, it recommended that a fully equipped and staffed Crash/Emergency Medical Response unit be established at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and an ambulance be stationed at the airport on 24-hour duty.

In July, a Thrush aircraft belonging to Kayman Sankar Aviation had an accident at Bath Aerodrome, which the GCAA upon investigations found was due to human error. The pilot, Kame Prasad was required by the authority to successfully complete the Human Performance and Limitations Examination at the Commercial level before being allowed to resume flying; the licence was suspended for 28 days.

A Nova Limited Cessna crashed closed to Omai in August killing its pilot Derek Leung and the sole passenger on board. Investigations found that the aircraft’s engine failed and the GCAA report said the engine manufacturer, Teledyne Continental Motors revealed that the engine experienced oil


Meanwhile, while an aircraft was being loaded the right landing gear truck beam sheared; this was in November 1998. On December 23, 1998 a stripped Cessna aircraft was found at Bartica airstrip. The registration of this aircraft was not known to the GCAA.


The 1999 crash of a Guysuco Cessna occurred after the pilot landed the aircraft and it came to a stop in a ditch on the right hand side of the runway. Though there were no fatalities, it was recommended that an airworthiness examination be carried out to determine further damage to the aircraft and suggested that these be repaired.

An ASL Cessna had also crashed into small trees in March 1999, but no one was injured.

The year 2000 saw three aircraft accidents, none with fatalities, but the files could not be found for one of them, the GCAA report inferred.

That accident involved an Islander plane, but information on the owner, name of pilot or the cause of the accident cannot be found.

That same year TGA pilot Moti Lall was instructed to undergo refresher ground training in performance degradation and on the adverse effects of performance on contaminated runways, the report stated. On landing, the aircraft veered off to the left of the runway. Lall’s CPL was suspended for a period of 21 days or on completion of the refresher training.

The TGA Islander, which crashed after it was operated into a disused and unserviceable aerodrome, the GCAA said, was in violation of civil aviation rules since the pilot was not familiar with the airstrip area. As a result, it said, the airline was written to regarding its responsibility to ensure that its pilots are checked into aerodromes prior to actual operation. The pilot was subsequently suspended from flying for one month

The inability of the right engine to perform even after takeoff resulted in the November 8, 2003 TGA Skyvan crash just after it took off from the Ogle Aerodrome. Two persons perished in this accident and one crewmember received injuries.

There was no aircraft accident in 2004.

Following the crash of the Rotorway Guyana Incorporated Exec 162 helicopter in January 2005, the GCAA had recommended to all domestic carriers that pilots must follow instruction in the Pilot Operating Handbook with specific regard to the use of a calibrated dip hose to verify accuracy of fuel gauge readings. That accident took place at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara because the aircraft ran out of fuel. According to the report, the pilot, Michael Charles was reminded that it was his responsibility to ensure that all recommendations were complied with.

In 2005, too, the GCAA was forced to issue a mandatory notice to all operators to remove and inspect for cracks all landing gear struts fitted to Guyana-registered Cessna 172 aircraft. This followed two accidents involving Ces
snas; one at the Mazem airstrip, Essequibo Coast and the second at the CJIA. In both incidents, the planes’ port main landing gear strut broke at the bolt attachment holes areas, where unapproved welding was done, resulting in the crash, investigations showed.

There were no fatalities in either crash.

That same year, a Guyana Adventist Medical Aviation Service aircraft had experienced a downdraft, which caused it to crash into trees after takeoff. The plane was completely destroyed and two persons on board were injured.

Meanwhile the cause of the ASL Islander crash close to a year ago is still to be revealed. The aircraft crashed close to the Yurubarrow Mountain in Kopinang, Region Eight, killing its pilot and two others including a baby.

Mohammed recently told Stabroek News that while the strip assessment of the engine and other parts of the craft has been completed, a report on the findings is yet to be prepared.