Director of the Aircraft Owners’ Association, Kit Nascimento has commended the government for reemphasising the need for flight operations inspections in the wake of three separate plane crashes over a month that claimed the lives of two pilots and injured another.
“I can say that it is excellent that the government has advised the Director of Civil Aviation to step up on flight operations inspections since the association has for many years complained that we did not have fully qualified in-flight ops and inspectors in place. We do now, though, especially since we have a new Director of Civil Aviation and I am sure that he will be using those flight ops and inspectors to make sure that we have maximum safety at all times.”
He added, “Our aviation industry flies under very difficult conditions and in very dangerous territory and when that is taken into account, we have an extraordinarily good flight safety record in comparison to territories with similar terrains in different parts of the world, so I don’t think there is any need for any major concern at this stage but other than that I can only repeat that one should not ever speculate about accidents, one has to have evidence before they make any conclusions.”
He was at the time responding to questions asked amid reports that the loading of supplies on the aircraft which crashed on Sunday killing pilot, Imran Khan could have been a factor.
“This is the reason we have (an) accident investigations unit because we learn from those investigations eventually what indeed went wrong. It is always sad when we lose a pilot. This was an experienced pilot and [he] had been flying that route frequently and consistently but more than that one cannot really comment,” Nascimento said.
“We have to wait and there have been a couple of other accidents as you know as well, we have to wait on the accident investigation to be completed and the report to be submitted,” he added.
Stabroek News understands that flight inspectors are employed by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and are dispatched from time to time to oversee the operations of all the airlines. It was further related that these inspectors do not give prior notice of visits as they aim to ensure that all the flight operators are properly scrutinized. Their inspections are also not limited to the airports in the city as they have the authority to “visit anywhere and visit anyone.”
“They can examine flight reports, they can examine your maintenance procedures, they can examine your pilot qualifications, they have total inspection rights and their main job is to ensure that all of the operations can perform the maximum safety procedures,” Nascimento explained.
Meanwhile, Khan is expected to be laid to rest today in his home village of Hampton Court, on the Essequibo Coast, after a viewing at the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana. His remains were finally flown back to the city yesterday morning, two days after the Cessna aircraft he was flying went down with him in the mountains between Chi-Chi and Mahdia, in Region Eight.
Khan, 41, was conducting his second shuttle mission for the day when the plane he was operating crashed into the jungle between Chi-Chi and Mahdia. He was the lone occupant of at the time of the incident.
His body was found by members of the Guyana Defence Force Special Forces, who were deployed to the crash site as part of the search and rescue team.
The GCAA has since launched an investigation to identify the cause of crash. The investigations will be undertaken by the Accident and Incident Investigation Group, which is expected to examine all possible factors that could have contributed to the crash, including the weather conditions, the pilot’s flight and duty hours, and the type of operations the pilot was conducting.
Khan is the second pilot to be killed in a crash in less than two months. The other was 39-year-old Collin Winston Martin, the chief medical evacuation pilot for Roraima Airlines, who died after his plane crashed while approaching the Eteringbang airstrip in Region Seven on July 25.
Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Captain Gerry Gouveia said Captain Martin, who was flying solo at the time of the accident, was returning from Ekereku, with another Roraima-owned aircraft behind him when the crash occurred.
Martin was returning from a trip to the Ekereku Mountains, where he had delivered fuel to miners earlier in the day.
On August 8, a single engine Cessna aircraft, bearing registration number 8R-GPR, crashed shortly after takeoff at the Eteringbang airstrip in Region Seven. The pilot suffered minor injuries.