The pilot and three passengers on board a light Cessna 206 aircraft operated by Air Services Limited (ASL) escaped with minor injuries after the plane overturned shortly after landing at the Arau airstrip in Region 7 yesterday.
Operations official at ASL, Annette Arjoon-Martins, told Stabroek News yesterday that the aircraft, which bears registration 8R-GGE, was heading into the area with several Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) officials at the time. The incident occurred around 9.30 am.
She said that the company had received a weather report prior to the flight which indicated that conditions were fair but when the aircraft arrived in the area, it had rained resulting in standing water which accumulated on the runway during the morning.
She said that the aircraft touched the sandy surface on the 1500 ft long runway and shortly after it “aqua-planed”, resulting in the aircraft tilting over. It came to rest some distance away from the point of impact. The pilot and passengers, who included the Toshao of the border community, escaped with minor injuries while the aircraft reportedly sustained substantial structural damage.
According to a Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) source, an aerodrome inspector and other officials attached to the aviation regulation body travelled to the area during the day to investigate the incident.
Arjoon-Martins noted that the aerodrome is frequented by the company’s aircraft each month, noting that the company completed 55 flights into the small airstrip within the past three months. The airstrip can only accommodate the Cessna 206 and smaller aircraft types. She said ASL was the only domestic airline which ventures into such remote airstrips, noting that it’s the only form of access to and from such areas by residents of those communities.
Sources within the aviation sector noted yesterday that there had been calls in recent months for the authorities to upgrade the airstrips within the country, especially those in remote areas in Region 7.