Representatives from the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Boeing Company have arrived in Guyana to assist in determining the cause of last Friday’s crash landing of a Fly Jamaica aircraft.
Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Lt. Col (Ret’d) Egbert Field disclosed that one representative of the NTSB arrived on Sunday afternoon, while two representatives from the Boeing Company arrived yesterday.
Subsequent to their arrival in Guyana, they have spent some time analysing the aircraft and the accident scene at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at Timehri.
Providing additional information on the role of the NTSB representative, Field explained that the individual is here to analyse and inspect the plane wreckage before passing his findings to an accredited representative in Washington D.C, where the organisation is headquartered.
Meanwhile, as it relates to the wreckage itself, Field on Sunday told this newspaper that the aircraft had been handed over to it operator, Fly Jamaica. Notwithstanding, he explained that the aircraft still remains under the jurisdiction of the accident investigators.
When asked if the aircraft had been removed from the crash site, Field said the task has not yet been undertaken since those who are removing it will need the right equipment to do so. He noted however, that efforts have been made to prepare the aircraft for removal.
In the meantime, the investigators were said to have had a preliminary interview with the pilot, who has since been identified as Jamaican Basil Ferguson.
It was noted, too, that the black box, which carries both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, both important elements of the investigation, has been packaged and is awaiting the next FedEx flight out of Guyana, which according to Field, may be either today or Wednesday.
At 2.21 am last Friday morning, the pilot and co-pilot of Fly Jamaica flight OJ 256, which had been en route to Toronto, Canada, indicated that there were some hydraulic problems and requested permission to return to the Timehri airport. Permission was granted and after spending an estimated 43 minutes in the air, they were able to land the plane. The aircraft, however, overshot the open runway and veered to a closed section, resulting in damage to the right wing.
There were 118 passengers and 8 crewmembers aboard and all were safely removed from the plane although about 10 persons suffered injuries while using the evacuation slide. They were taken to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, where they were treated and either discharged or transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital for additional tests.
But while the investigations into the plane crash continue, some passengers are now hoping that they will soon be able to travel to Canada.
Davanan Sukhra, a passenger who previously shared with this newspaper his experience aboard the flight, explained that though he has been contacted by representatives from the airline, they have not been able to offer any assurances of when he would be able to return home to Canada.
“They called me yesterday and I asked them about flights but all I was told is that they don’t have any flight information at this time…they are not even giving me any hope that by Wednesday or Thursday I could get a flight, nothing,” Sukhra said.
“I asked why they can’t accommodate us, even if it’s two or five at a time but they told me that they are trying to charter an aircraft to get everyone out one time, but again they aren’t sure of when this will be,” he added.
In addition to the delay in his plans to return home, the man said he continues to suffer pain from injuries he sustained during landing.
Sukhra explained that he had to return to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital yesterday for injections to ease the pain which at this point plagues mainly his upper body.