First published January 16, 1987

(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.

REPAIRS

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.

CONCERNED

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.

CHOICES

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.”

STATUS

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.

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