(By Bert Wilkinson)
JOLTED by a recent top management shake-up and problems with its only jet aircraft, the State-owned Guyana Airways has said that it is moving to have its TU-154M aircraft back in service at the end of the week or early in the next.
A top management spokesman told ‘Stabroek News’ that arrangements are being made to lease an engine from Cuba to be installed in the Soviet-built aircraft, while negotiations are concluded for the Corporation to obtain another engine from the manufacturers.
The aircraft, just over one year old, has recently been the centre of controversy following two separate incidents of engine problems on flights out of the United States.
The first occurred on October 26 last when the crew reportedly noticed that the Number Two engine was malfunctioning. A quick decision was taken to return the aircraft and passengers to the John F. Kennedy Airport where repairs were effected.
Just two months after that incident, another engine failure hit the three-engine airliner after it had left Miami International Airport on Boxing Day.
Reports confirmed both by the corporation and Civil Aviation Department (CAD) officials indicated that it was decided to continue the flight on two engines until the craft reached Piarco Airport in Trinidad and Tobago where the stricken plane touched down and passengers were allowed to disembark.
This is the incident that caused regular passengers and local Civil Aviation officials to really focus their attention on the performance of the national airliner.
One passenger told ‘Stabroek News’ that he was extremely concerned about the latest incident, bearing in mind that it is not a case where it was the same “Number Two engine giving trouble, but this time it was another one.”
Clearly, he feels, something needs to be done about the aircraft which flies to North America, the Caribbean, Suriname and Brazil. “Who knows… the next time it could be Numbers Two and Three or Numbers One and Two engines.”
Director of Civil Aviation Anthony Mekdeci has acknowledged that his department is investigating the incidents.
Asked whether management is concerned about the aircraft’s performance, a top spokesman said only that “we are looking at it.” He would not comment on the cost of the replacement “Tarom’’ aircraft which has been operating the schedules while the TU154M remains grounded at Timehri.
The October incident embarrassed GAC officials who were forced to switch to the replacement TU154B almost at the last moment when the Corporation inaugurated its weekly jet service to Brazil. Special permission had to be sought to land the plane and its all-Romanian crew at Boa Vista International.
The passengers who were stranded in Trinidad as a result of the last incident, were brought home by HS 748 flights the next day.
Informed sources say that engine failure in modern jet aircraft is unusual.
NAPA AWARDS COME UNDER FIRE
A Monster Has Been Created – Robert Narain
NAPA has come under a great deal of fire since the staging of their awards presentation show “Celebration 86” on January 4.
There have been comments from various quarters including a Chronicle Editorial which credited NAPA with having a positive step forward but wished they had employed more scientific methods.
But in the words of dramatist and dancer Robert Narain “a monster has been created.” Persons who accepted the awards, he believes, have legitimised something that is misleading and inauthentic and the awards will assume acceptance and status that they do not deserve.
Severe criticisms of the NAPA presentations were also levelled on a radio discussion moderated by Enrico Woolford. It included Minister of State Faith Hardiing (who stressed she was discussing awards generally and not NAPA), ‘Stabroek News’ Woman’s Editor, Alice Thomas and dramatist Francis Farrier who is himself associated with NAPA.
Members of the audience of “Celebration 86,” theatre enthusiasts and other observers including a prominent Guyanese dramatist now resident abroad who attended the show while visiting “home” expressed serious dissatisfaction with various aspects of the event.
There is a general consensus that such awards are useful in giving recognition and should stimulate better and professional work. These are not the first presentations, however, since the Theatre Guild has been giving awards for best performances at the Playhouse for many years.
But while crediting NAPA for having followed up an initiative, the consensus soundly disapproved of the methods. Even as a popular poll it was felt to have been arbitrarily handled based on an unsystematic and unscientific distribution of questionnaires which led to awards of questionable authenticity.
There was much dissatisfaction with choices, specifically of Richard Narine and Desiree Edghill for the acting awards.
These NAPA presentations are seen as reflecting a popularity contest and not as real measures of excellence. Persons responding to questionnaires had not seen many of the productions, did not know what to look for in judging excellent performance and rather might also have been based on a number of productions rather than meritorious production.
Many remarked at an apparent imitation of the Oscars and the Grammies, suggesting that a Guyanese awards show should have more original flavour rather than “pseudo-American pop.”
A few even questioned NAPA’s achievement of any status which put them in a position to hand out awards, but that point may be set aside. What is more important is that enterprising groups do not defeat what they set out to achieve by making awards that do not properly recognise examples of true excellence in a society well in need of such examples.