Investigations are currently underway into an incident at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, where the tail section of a parked Fly Jamaica plane was knocked off by a Caribbean Airlines (CAL) craft as it was pulling into the apron yesterday morning.
No one was injured and all passengers onboard the flight were able to leave for their respective destinations with their luggage. However, outgoing CAL and Fly Jamaica flights were cancelled as a result of the incident.
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has launched an investigation into the incident, while CAL is also conducting its own separate probe.
CAL’s team out of Trinidad arrived in Guyana yesterday and started gathering its information.
“GCAA is investigating the incident and will submit a report,” Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson told Stabroek News.
“You had the Fly Jamaica plane on the apron and CAL was coming in and the right wing of their plane would have clipped the Fly Jamaica Aircraft…I have been advised by the Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority that they were down at the airport and a probe has been launched,” Junior Minister Annette Ferguson, who is responsible for the aviation sector, added.
The GCAA released a terse statement informing that both it and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation (CJIAC) were investigating the incident.
Sources told Stabroek News that CAL’s BW 527 landed at around 7.33am and the incident occurred several minutes later as it was taxiing. Fly Jamaica had arrived around one hour earlier.
Ferguson informed that she expects a preliminary report to be completed by the end of this week.
This newspaper understands that from preliminary investigations conducted yesterday the “brunt of the blame went to the wing walkers” or aircraft marshallers that give the visuals for the pilots on the ground.
However, an official of the CJIA said that “plenty people being blamed and it is complicated,” although the official would not go into detail.
One source said that CAL “will have to take as much blame as the wing walkers” because Fly Jamaica was parked in their assigned spot by the aircraft marshallers.
When contacted by this newspaper, CAL’s Head of Corporate Communications Dionne Ligoure informed that the airline would also be undertaking a probe.
“Investigations have started and we will let the investigators complete their work and have their course,” she said while pointing out that no timeframe has been set by the airline for a preliminary report.
A subsequent statement from the airline said the Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating BW 527, from JFK International, New York to Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Guyana was involved in “an incident on the ramp.”
“All passengers and crew were safely disembarked. The aircraft has since been temporarily withdrawn from service and all appropriate inspections and procedures, along with an investigation are in progress. Caribbean Airlines re-affirms our commitment to the safety of our valued customers and crew and thanks the public for your continued support,” it added.
Manager of Fly Jamaica, Roxanne Reece, issued a statement last evening and assured the airline’s passengers of the company’s commitment to ensuring that they get to their destinations.
Her statement said Fly Jamaica Airways’ B767-300, which was parked at an assigned gate, was struck by the wing tip of a taxiing Caribbean Airlines (CAL) B737-800 aircraft. “Fly Jamaica Airways’ B767-300 aircraft has been withdrawn from service,” she added, while noting that the airline awaits the findings of the investigation currently being conducted by the GCAA.
“The Directors and staff of Fly Jamaica Airways wish to reassure their customers that they are working assiduously to lessen the inconvenience caused by this incident, and to ensure that all of their passengers are accommodated in the most efficient and convenient manner. Fly Jamaica Airways remains committed to offering the safest service between all of their destinations, in the air and on the ground, and the continued safety of their passengers, flight crews and ground staff,” the statement added.
Passengers are being asked to log on to the airport’s website (www.fly-jamaica.com) and click on the ‘Customer Advisory: Updated Flight Schedule’ link for information on flight schedules.
The incident involving the two airline aircraft brings into question the issue of space on the CJIA apron and comes on the heels of complaints lodged by operators and the projects supervising consultants against the contractor responsible for the airport’s expansion, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure is working with CHEC to have the issue resolved and ensure that construction works at the site are within the conformity of all necessary standards.
Sources told Stabroek News that the CHEC has deviated from the project plan and that there is an issue pertaining to runway and apron space for the new airport, which seems to be in violation of International Civil Aviation Organisation airport construction standards.
When Patterson was asked about the report, he was quick to point out that it was in no way connected to yesterday morning’s incident. “Please note that this accident occurred on the existing runways. Please also note that the airport, consultants and contractors have/are examining several additional options to ensure that the new structure and runway complies with all requirements,” the minister said.
“The issue you appear to be referring to is the number of additional parking spaces that will be available for larger aircrafts! All of which has been examined,” he added.