I refer to your front page story of Sunday, December 12, 2010 headlined ‘Cessna landing in August at 63 Beach raises serious questions.’ What is unusual is that this story, a follow-up of an incident which took place more than four months ago, did not benefit from adequate follow-up investigation, eg, was permission granted properly for the aircraft to land at the 63 Beach, interview with the military heads who expressed surprise, response from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, response from the Minister who allegedly gave permission, etc. (Your Tuesday edition did clarify to some extent the permission side of it.)
However, I am not too bothered about the above; I assume all the players can answer for themselves. What concerns me is your attempt to transform the owners of the aircraft from an individual to a company.
On Sunday, in the fourth paragraph of your article, you used the words “aircraft owner” (singular); two paragraphs later, it became “owners” (plural) and two paragraphs later it became “the company which owns the aircraft in question.” The paragraph before that states that from internet databases you ascertain that the aircraft was registered in Florida, USA to a “Guyanese aircraft operator.” I doubt that very much because the registration (which I have seen) states clearly that the aircraft was registered to an individual by the name of Yacoob Ally (which you got right on Tuesday). The word “individual” is even mentioned in the registration, no operator, no company.
So, who is this “company which owns the aircraft”? Even though it is not mentioned by name, it can easily be insinuated by those who are familiar with aviation in Guyana that that company is Air Services Limited. The reasons are straightforward. This aircraft N29PM is parked all the time (when it is not flying) at ASL’s hangar and parking area; ASL is contracted to do the maintenance; ASL staff fuel and clean the aircraft; the aircraft is also flown in addition to the owner, by Captain Mazahar Ally, the Managing Director of ASL and son of the owner; the aircraft is owned by Mr Yacoob Ally, Chairman of the Board of Air Services Limited.
Apart from maintenance safety of the aircraft as the maintenance contractor, ASL has no operational control. This aircraft is privately owned and operated. It does not appear in the list of aircraft in our Air Operator Certificate (AOC) issued by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority or our company Flight Operations Manual.
Your Sunday article then takes a cheap shot at Air Services Limited when it says, “according to an aviation source, the company which owns the aircraft in question [read ASL] had ‘committed several similar unusual flights’ in the past.” You mentioned as an “unusual flight” a flight from Skeldon to Lethem. Well, it may have been unusual in the sense that it doesn’t happen often, but what is wrong with that? Are you or your “source” implying something sinister or illegal? An air operator is free to fly from any authorised aerodrome to another in Guyana once he files a flight plan with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the flight plan is approved. ASL has done many such flights in the past. There are several legitimate reasons why an aircraft would need to operate between Skeldon and Lethem.
It is unfortunate that you didn’t seem to think that there might have been something sinister about your source(s). One good source you ignored completely, for what reason I cannot tell, is – Air Services Limited.
Air Services Limited
SN acknowledges that in the two news items different types of ownership of the aircraft were referred to. This should have been clarified in the follow-up news item. We thank ASL for the clarifications provided in this matter.