Aircraft owners urge GCAA strengthening

-say aviation safety priority in approved industry action plan

Air service operators want the strengthening of the aviation regulatory body, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA),  Presi-dent of the Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) Michael Correia said yesterday.

Correia also said that  the National Competitive-ness Council has approved a policy framework and action plan for the aviation industry.

He made the announcements at a press conference at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, where officials from companies gathered to discuss the development, regulation and safety of the aviation industry, while agreeing that the institutional capacity of the GCAA needed to be strengthened. Among those present at the meeting were Roraima Airways Chief Executive Officer Captain Gerry Gouveia and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ogle International Airport Inc Anthony Mekdeci.

Michael Correia
Michael Correia

In recent years, there have been a number of mishaps and crashes involving aircraft that usually operate from the Ogle International Airport. Officials, however, addressed these crashes, stating that they have improved safety by  checking the aircraft to ensure efficiency.

Air Services Limited and Trans Guyana officials said that the checks and balances systems have been improved at their respective companies in order to ensure that planes are not overloaded and are not at risk of crashing. These companies have said that there has been no decline in flights even though there has been an increase in accidents.

Correia said that airlines flying out of the airport were subjected to extremely rigorous maintenance and that every component on each aircraft would be subjected to rigid inspection while a thorough log of the work schedule is kept. He added that each year all planes would undergo a Certificate of Airworthiness Renewal Inspection, when a test flight, engineer’s report and the aircraft maintenance records would be submitted to the GCAA for review. On completion, he added, a GCAA inspector would conduct a physical inspection of the plane.

The aviation industry policy has been developed to further improve the industry, reducing the risks of crashes, Correia told reporters. He said that the policy proposed aviation safety and security as its main priority. “There is absolutely no doubt that there is considerable room for regulatory improvement and enforcement, for which the industry’s aircraft operators have been calling for some time,” he said, noting that urgent among the industry’s recommendations in the proposal for immediate attention were independent aircraft accident investigations and prompt public reporting of the findings and actions taken by the GCAA to avoid a recurrence. He added that the policy proposed a National Search and Rescue system, with fitting protocols under the Civil Defence Commission.

Correia stated that there was a need for improvement in the GCAA technical capacity to support the work programme and achieve and maintain a category 1 US FAA/IASA status, adding that there was also a need for airstrip development in the hinterland. One official said that the government was maintaining only 45 airstrips—there are over 100 airstrips in the country.

Correira said that airstrip development was necessary for the accommodation of larger aircraft. “Pivotal to the industry moving further, is the critical role of the GCAA. In the medium term, we urge the strengthening of its administrative and technical capabilities so that it can effectively and efficiently deliver on its responsibilities. In the immediate term, the Flight Operations Oversight function must be strengthened and enforced,” he said.

He added that the Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn had informed the industry that he had appointed an Independent Accident Investigator, who he said was free to appoint members for technical support. He also said that consideration was being given to establishing an “Accident Review Board” which would include representation from the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System.

Correia said that “positive” initiatives were already being taken by the GCAA to improve the industry. He said that the regulatory body was presently conducting a review of the entire regulatory aviation framework and had made a commitment to hold regular meetings with industry stakeholders in order to build greater collaboration and promised to post reports of aviation accidents on its website.

He added, “Funding of $80M has been allocated for a Navigational Aid Upgrade and the introduction of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADSB) programme is on stream with a six month pilot being implemented and a total timeline of three years to achieve completion.”

He further expressed satisfaction with the government’s response to their proposal, citing it as “extremely positive.”

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