A Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) Cessna Caravan careened off the runway at the Mabaruma airstrip in Region One yesterday morning after the aircraft suffered an apparent brake failure.
According to a passenger’s account, around 8:05 am the aircraft bearing registration 8R-GHR landed on the short North West District runway and after reaching the end of the strip at the eastern side of the facility, the aircraft “continued off the end into some bushes”.
When contacted earlier yesterday, an official at TGA said that she was unaware of the incident and she noted that the company’s Chief Finance Officer, Nicole Correia, who liaises with the media was on annual leave as of yesterday.
Acting Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Paula McAdam told this newspaper that the incident is being played up by the media. She noted that the aircraft slipped off the runway after the pilot completed the landing. She described it as a non-event, noting that the aircraft managed to depart the facility around 10 am. Asked whether the aircraft had suffered a brake failure, McAdam stated that there was indeed a problem which was rectified sometime after the aircraft was pulled out of a small ditch at the end of the runway. She said that the braking problem was not related to the incident.
According to passenger Elizabeth Inniss, she was seated at the back of the aircraft when the incident occurred. She recounted that she was looking out of the window of the aircraft when she observed that it was at the end of the runway and about to turn around. In most aircraft landings, aircraft would utilize the length of the strips and complete a 180 degree turn at the end of the runway before proceeding to discharge passengers.
Inniss stated that the aircraft was in the process of turning around but at a fast rate and she noted that within a matter of seconds, it careened off the runway and was headed for some bushes. It got stuck in a ditch, another passenger noted, and she recounted that persons began to ask the pilot if all was well but the man never responded.
“He come out and look at the thing and people start panicking because we want to know what happen”, another passenger noted. She said that after he examined the aircraft, the pilot climbed into his seat and “start up the plane again but he couldn’t move”, she noted.
Reports are that the 14 passengers were sitting in the aircraft for close to 10 minutes after the incident without being told anything by the pilot and the man then advised passengers to disembark the aircraft and proceed to the small terminal located at the airstrip.
Reports are that persons who were at the terminal building ran towards the scene after someone raised an alarm. The pilot was assisted by several persons in pushing the aircraft out of the ditch and back onto the runway.
An eyewitness on the ground told this newspaper that he was waiting to collect a passenger who was on the flight when he noticed the aircraft making a sharp turn at the end of the runway. He said that, “I just see the plane turn around very fast and suddenly it run off the end there close to where some big rocks use to be with paintings”.
The aircraft was the third to have landed at Mabaruma yesterday as another Cessna Caravan and a smaller aircraft had landed there moments earlier.
The incident was the second in the past several days in which an aircraft attached to the airline in question is concerned. Last Saturday, around 11:30 am, a Britten Norman Islander aircraft skidded off of the Port Kaituma airstrip, also in Region One and collided with the perimeter fence before finally coming to a halt after hitting a tree.
The aircraft, registered 8R-GHD, had circled the aerodrome several times during rainy weather and after conditions cleared the pilot attempted the landing. The aircraft’s wheels landed in several pockets of water at the time resulting in the aircraft slipping off of the runway.
Reports are that the pilot was advised by the company’s chief pilot not to land at Port Kaituma since the weather conditions were below optimum at the time. The aircraft was completely written off.