GCAA advises domestic airline operators on safety practices

30th July, 2014

KINGSTON - Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the country’s aviation watchdog – reissued a notice to aircraft operators in accordance with the standards and recommended practices of the Convention on International Civil Aviationwhen landing on hinterland airstrips.

This notice was recirculated as a precautionary measure.

“It was something that had to be done because we are very concerned. Recently several aircraft have encountered gusty winds and windshear conditions that have resulted in damage to these aircraft,” disclosed Hon. Robeson Benn, Minister of Public Works.

As per standard operation practice, pilots were reminded of the need to follow the Visual Flight Rules (VFR) procedurally when operating.

“Each aircraft has its own peculiar reaction in response to crosswinds, but generally a good crosswind landing begins with a good approach. This is taught to pilots and every opportunity must be taken to re-enforce this,” GCAA’s Director-General Zulifar Mohamed emphasized in the bulletin.

Pointing to the fact that the landing phase is very demanding, operators are advised to have their pilots to follow the approved procedures in order to maintain proper approach and landing. If these parameters are not achieved, a go-around or diversion is necessary.

The option of the Go-around maneuver, an aborted landing of an aircraft that is on final approach,was highlighted in the bulletin.

“This procedure should be a habit in everyday Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flying, so that a predetermined go-around plan is always fresh in the mind during the approach and can be executed at any time the approach is in doubt. Most importantly, in situations where meteorological conditions or terrain features would permit an approach but preclude a safe go-around, then that approach requires extra consideration and perhaps should not be attempted.

“Every pilot already knows that proper planning, making wise decisions, situational awareness, adherence to SOPs and having an alternate plan of action are all characteristics of good airmanship, which are essential for a safe flight.”

“It is important that pilots know not only the aircraft crosswind limits, but also their own personal limit and to recognize when these limits will be exceeded. The best option is to divert to another airstrip. Very often the limiting factor is related more to the pilot than the aircraft. It is therefore important to reiterate that the pilot must know his/her limits and operate within them,” Mr. Mohamed said.

Operators are also cautioned to ensure that young pilots be taught the necessary skills to operate safely into the hinterland airstrips. Pilots must be given the opportunity to practice and develop these skills, and must be comfortable operating into borderline aerodromes before they are required to operate into the aerodromes as pilot-in-command by their respective companies

TravelSpan commits to CJIA as airline hub

22nd July, 2014

KINGSTON - Since the introduction of several new airlines to the Guyanese market, there has been talk about the country becoming a hub that will connect passengers from around the world as they arrive at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport(CJIA),Timehri.

But not many have taken the talk further as was TravelSpan which recently applied to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for permission to operate a scheduled service, moving away from the charger service it is licenced to provide. Officials at the airline told Guyana Times that the move to acquire such a licence basically indicates that TravelSpan is here for the long haul. “A charger service is basically to operate seasonal, but with this Scheduled Licence we have applied for is indicating that we are here for the long haul,” the airline official said.

Contacted on the issue GCAA acting Director General Ankar Doobay told Guyana Times on Friday that the airline has indeed submitted the application and it is presently being looked at. He said he was certain that the request will be granted once all the documentations and infrastructure are in order.

Most international airports serve as hubs, or places where non-direct flights may land and passengers switch planes. International airports often have many airlines represented, and many of these are often foreign. Passengers connecting to domestic flights from an international flight generally must take their checked luggage through Customs and re-check their luggage at the domestic airline counter, requiring extra-time in the process. In some cases in Europe, luggage can be transferred to the final destination even if it is a domestic connection.

In some cases, travellers and the aircraft can clear Customs and Immigration at the departure airport. One example of this is the pre-clearance facilities airports in Canada have at the US border. This allows flights from those airports to fly into US airports that do not have Customs and Immigration facilities. Luggage from such flights can also be transferred to a final destination in the US through the airport of entry.

Expansion Project

Observers believe that this should ultimately be the goal of the authorities here with the multibillion-dollar airport expansion project.

“It makes no sense you invest so much into expanding the facilities at CJIA and we only have flights dropping off and picking up people. We must be able to have connections and operate truly as a hub,” a top local aviator said.

TravelSpan Chief Executive Officer Nohar Singh explained that in order for Guyana to be a hub, the airport expansion is a necessity, noting that hundreds of passengers will be passing through the airport and there must be modernised facilities to cater for this development.

He added that they would not have been in discussion about hub operation, if they were not sure the Government is committed to the expansion project.

“The airport expansion project is absolutely necessary in a hub operation,” he reiterated.

Only last week, leading agencies in the aviation industry called for the speedy completion of the US$155 million expansion project.

During a high-profile meeting with Public Works Minister Robeson Benn last Thursday, key stakeholders within the aviation sector reaffirmed their commitment to the expansion of the industry, but said the airport must be expanded to mitigate the challenges currently faced.

“We recognise that the expansion project is the appropriate response to the dire safety, security and efficiency challenges faced at the existing facility and pledge to fully lend our support and expertise to advance the progress of the multimillion-dollar national endeavour,” the stakeholders said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.

It was explained that the existing runway creates many limitations in safety due to the absence of the Runway Extension Safety Area (RESA) and its inability to accommodate larger wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft. The congested terminal and parking space constraints for aircraft were among other issues laid on the table when the meeting was convened. The airlines said that insufficient parking space for aircraft adversely affects their on-time performance.

Meanwhile, TravelSpan Board member Rob Binns said the airline has commenced preparation for the expansion, which will see Guyana becoming a hub in the near future. He said that as talks continue about a “hub”, TravelSpan will increase its presence here by investing in Guyanese. In so doing, they have hired the first batch of Guyanese flight attendants who can relate more to Guyanese passengers travelling from JFK to Georgetown.

Guyanese Hospitality

“Our aim to present that warm Guyanese hospitality onboard our flights and with the flight attendants, we are sure that passengers will relate better with their own.” Binns added that with the hub operation, the idea is to hire Guyanese pilots, Guyanese mechanics and engineers so that their flights can actually be based in Guyana.

Vision Airlines Executive David Ray explained that the hub will see TravelSpan bringing passengers to Guyana who will then board connecting flights. This, he added, would need better infrastructure.

Ray added that this can and will tremendously boost the county’s economy and provide job opportunities. He said at present, bigger aircraft cannot land at the current runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

Kurupung airstrip crash caused by pilot error

13th July, 2014

KINGSTON - The incident involving the Trans Guyana Airways BN2A-27 Islander with registration 8R-GHM Serial No. 216, which took place on May 16 at the Kurupung airstrip in Region Seven cannot be attributed to lack of maintenance of the airstrip, but instead to the training and experience of the airman.

This was highlighted, through a written response provided in the National Assembly, by Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn to A Partnership for Unity’s (APNU) Member of Parliament Dr. Karen Cummings.

Cummings had questioned if maintenance and at what cost was carried out on the airstrip in 2013, and if a maintenance team examined the airstrip periodically and the mechanism that will be put in place to prevent another incident such as the “hard landing” that took place.

In his response, Minister Benn explained that $640,000 was spent to maintain the 1,365 feet long and 43 feet wide Kurupung airstrip in 2013.

He said that since the airstrip is bordered on the eastern end by a deep valley and a swamp with a creek on the western end, there is very little scope to facilitate its lengthening and as such maintenance was carried out all year round.

It was noted that like all other government airstrips, Kurupung’s benefitted from a resident contractor, who has responsibility for its maintenance, all year round and that all the government’s airstrips are examined periodically, jointly by the aviation inspectors in the Ministry of Public Works and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA).

In addition, answering Cummings’ query about what mechanism will be put in place to prevent another event of “hard landing” at the airstrip, the Minister noted that focus must be on training and experience by the relevant companies, and as such suggested that the incident called to fault, more the experience of the pilot and not the maintenance of the airstrip.

The Minister said too that focused training by the relevant companies should consist of airman proficiency checks every six months and route and aerodrome checks once every 12 months in accordance with the GCCA requirements.

Minister Benn also corrected Cummings’ use of the term “hard landing”. He noted instead it was a “short landing” by the pilot of the aircraft and that the contributory factors were wind shear and down draught.

The incident which involved the Trans Guyana Airways BN2A-27 Islander, involved one crew and four passengers, but no one suffered any injuries.

The aircraft which was seriously damaged, landed before the threshold, the left landing gear moved rearward 39 inches tearing the nacelle. There were also wrinkles to both the surfaces of the wing and flaps. (INews) 

GCAA investigating Monkey Mountain plane mishap

8th July, 2014

KINGSTON - Investigators from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) are in Monkey Mountain, Region 8 (Potaro/Siparuni) to determine what caused a Britten Norman Islander aircraft to run of the Monkey Mountain airstrip.

The incident occurred around 9:50 am on July 7, 2014.

The pilot Orlando Charles and another passenger were reportedly not injured. However, the twin engine aircraft, registration 8RGGY, was damaged but to what extent will be known upon arrival of the investigators. 

The aircraft left Ogle International Airport earlier in the day and made stops at Omai and Mahadia before heading to Monkey Mountain when the incident occurred.

The aircraft is owned by Domestic Airways. 

GCAA's statement on Paramakatoi Airstrip incident

6th June, 2014

KINGSTON - The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority is currently conducting an investigation into the incident which occurred on June 2, 2014 at the Paramakatoi Airstrip in which a Cessna 206 aircraft owned and operated by Air Services Limited upon landing, veered off of the runway and ploughed through a barbed wire fence.

The aircraft was at the time transporting cargo with only the pilot in command on board.

The facts uncovered in the preliminary investigation do not suggest that there was cattle present on or in the vicinity of the airstrip at the time of the incident. 

The Authority wishes to make clear that there are established procedures which govern operation into and out of uncontrolled aerodromes such as Paramakatoi that require the pilot to pass over in the vicinity of the aerodrome to ensure that the runway is clear of all obstacles prior to landing.

The most recent Advisory Circular on Standard Operating Procedures at Uncontrolled Aerodromes was issued to the industry in September, 2013 and describes actions to be taken by a pilot to ensure that a proper assessment of conditions at the airstrip are made before landing.

GCAA has eight new Air Traffic Control Officers

3rd June, 2014

KINGSTON - After two years of training eight Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) are certified and have assumed their responsibilities at Ogle and the Cheddi Jagan International Airports control towers.

Zulficar Mohamed,Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) stated that from reports received, he is impressed with the zest and professionalism demonstrated by the newest batch.

“Air traffic control is a fast-paced job that requires an individual to be on the alert to control and maintain safety of Air Traffic operating within our airspace. As such the trainee ATCOs had to be proficient in the classroom, as well as, during their simulation training, hence the reason for the two year programme,” Mr. Mohamed stated.

At the moment, GCAA has shortlisted in excess of 40 individuals to undergo aptitude testing followed by interviews to begin the next training programme within the next few months.

Furthermore, four seasoned ATCOs have completed the theoretical training and are now undergoing on-the-job training as part of the aviation watchdog’s move to promote them and increase the staff level of the Area Control Centre.

According to Mr. Mohamed, GCAA’s aim is to increase the capability of the ATCOs. “These are the men and women that keep the aircraft and it passengers safe in our airspace and we must continue to develop their skills.”

Trans Guyana aircraft ‘hard lands’ in Region 7

18th May, 2014

KINGSTON - A Trans Guyana Britten Norman Islander aircraft hard landed during its approach at Kurupung Bottom airstrip, Region Seven, approximately 12:27 pm on May 16, 2014. No injuries were report.

In aviation, a hard landing is an especially rapid or steep descent.

Five persons, including the pilot, were on board the aircraft, which had departed from Ogle International Airport.

Zulficar Mohamed, Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) stated that the aircraft landed on the airstrip’s threshold resulting in damage to the left landing gear.

Officials of GCAA and Trans Guyana are in the area to conduct an investigation into the incident.

GCAA responds to “obfuscation” of facts

30th January, 2014

KINGSTON - The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has taken issue with various statements in the public domain concerning the function of the authority in relation to accident and incident investigations.

The GCAA in a release said Guyana as a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation is mandated to carry out a safety investigation in conformity with the protocols and procedures set out in Annex 13 to that convention.

“It must be made clear that this Annex 13 investigation is a safety investigation with the sole objective of preventing accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this type of activity to apportion blame or liability. These types of investigations are usually carried out by the national regulatory body for civil aviation. This is the practice internationally; Guyana is no different in this regard,” the body said.

The Civil Aviation (investigation of accidents) Regulations of 1982 makes provision for the appointment of an inspector of accidents for the purposes of carrying out an investigation into the circumstances and causes of accidents and incidents arising out of or in the course of air navigation, which occur to civil aircraft in or over Guyana, or elsewhere to civil aircraft registered in Guyana.

“To therefore infer that in conducting a safety investigation, GCAA is in essence investigating itself, is an obfuscation of the facts.

“While the GCAA, like other aviation authorities across the region, does not yet have the optimum level of resources, the authority has formed the necessary relationships that bring to bear any technical and human resources as the need arises.”

The aviation body said one such example is the relationship between the GCAA and the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS). While the GCAA does not have a full-time in-house flight operations inspector, the services of a qualified Inspector are made readily available through CASSOS.

“Indeed, the very reason for the existence of CASSOS is to provide the human and technical resources to address the existing regional deficiencies in these areas.

“It is important to note that the GCAA was staffed with an ICAO approved flight operations inspector but certain operators took to the courts to prevent him from carrying out his functions, resulting in his eventual departure from the authority. Since that time, the GCAA has been making continuous efforts to recruit a full-time, in-house flight operations inspector,” the GCAA.

With respect to the most recent accident, the GCAA has moved swiftly to carry out its mandate as it is required to do under national and international law. The authority is in contact with the relevant international agencies and has in place all the technical and human resources necessary for the completion of its safety investigation.

Thorough investigation into cause of Cessna crash will be undertaken-Minister Benn

23rd January, 2014

KINGSTON - Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn, in assuring the general travelling public that all efforts are being made towards ensuring safety in aircraft operations, and said that the Ministry and stakeholders have been examining additional surveillance measures.

Minister Benn expressed concerns over several aircraft incidents that have occurred in the recent past, reminding of an aircraft flipping at Ogle aerodrome one week before the Cessna Caravan crashed on January 18 in the mid Mazaruni, which cleft its pilot and loader dead.

“We have been discussing additional measures, additional oversights in respect of heightening the level of surveillance with respect to aircraft operations. Domestic flights particularly from the Ogle Aerodrome are our very high number. Ogle aerodrome which is now a regional airport has amongst the highest numbers, the highest levels of aircraft activity. Aircraft movements are around 50, 000 annually,” he added.

He said the entire system has been responding to increased levels of activities, and there are some things that the Ministry needs to look into, arriving from investigations of both aircraft.

“Overall we are doing re-assessments, we’re doing reviews as one of the mechanisms of the investigation to improve the activity we do for the Ministry…we want to ensure that we don’t have recurrences at this time,” Minister Benn stated.

He expressed condolence to the families of the deceased on behalf of the Ministry and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The Cessna Caravan registration 8R-GHS crashed just after takeoff from Olive Creek in the Mazaruni. At the time there were two persons on board: Captain Blake Slater and a loader Dwayne Jacobs.  The aircraft was at the time on a shuttle operation carrying fuel between Olive Creek and Imbaimadai. The emergency call was broadcast at approximately 10:56hrs on January 18, and an aerial search commenced immediately. The dense forest canopy coupled with poor lighting, occasional poor weather and absence of an ELT signal proved challenging for the search team.

GDF Special Force Officers arrived at the crash location early Monday morning and discovered that both the Captain and the crew member had perished during the crash.    The bodies were extricated early Tuesday morning and were flown to Georgetown by midday.

In keeping with the protocols and procedures for accident investigations, the GCAA investigators have identified and commenced the interviewing of material witnesses and are gathering the necessary documentary and photographic evidence at site for analysis.

The GCAA is in contact with the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) of the USA, Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority Suriname (CASAS), Cessna, the aircraft manufacturer and the engine Manufacturer, Pratt and Whitney.

The GCAA investigators are continuing to process the evidence at site and will be removing the necessary components of the aircraft for further analysis. (GINA)

Guyana Civil Aviation Authority honours 39 for dedicated service

9th December, 2013

KINGSTON - Recognising the contributions of more than 50 long – serving aviation sector staffers, Transport Minister Robeson Benn stated that government was prepared to do was needed to address the future demands of the sector.

Speaking at a dinner and awards ceremony on November 7, at the Umana Yana, Kingston, to mark World Aviation Day, Minister Benn acknowledged that much work remains to be done. “We have to recognise that the movement of people by air is the most important, the most significant way of moving people to and from Guyana”.

Minister Benn said the challenges of meeting the future demands of air transport “is not just about simply being in the air and flying planes,” but rather the aviation sector will have to enable the means to “break the molds which require us to have the regional, extra-regional and international air transport linkages which would allow for the direct development of our country”.
He noted that it is not simply about connecting to the traditional north or north east destinations in North America and Europe,   south into South America. Mention was made of the plans to improve the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and Ogle Airport as part of a 50- year, long -term plan by Minister Benn. This plan has to be extended further  to be part of a 100-year projection, he said.
“We know that when we speak of turning out a new air transport policy document, fashioning new regulations, upgrading and updating them in trying to get Category 1 status (Federal Aviation standard) in identifying our young people to become trained and capable, and also our administrator… to everything at the level of air transport, we have to have a vision for the next hundred years”.
The next 100 years will project to encompass the increased use of drones and pilot-less aircraft, and will require new understanding with relation to safety and technology. A revolutionising of the type of persons, skills and technology to be able to move into the next century of civil aviation, Minister Benn said will also require government and key stakeholders to work in partnership if the sector is to move forward successfully.
Giving an overview of the local aviation sector, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Board Chairman Hugh Denbow, said the theme “Evolving to meet the challenges of 21st century air transport”, recognises the significant re-evaluations of the international Civil Aviation Organisation as a whole undertaking, as aviation seeks to forge wider consensus and practical strategic planning to address its imminent challenges.”

The GCAA Chairman highlighted some of the challenges including Guyana’s ability to respond to issues which deal with Aviation Safety, Air Traffic Management, Economic Regulations (for both domestic and international operations) reliable and adequate International Air Transportation Services Aviation Security and the modernisation of airport facilities. He said Guyana is also faced with the challenge of the need to strengthen institutional capacity, recruiting additional staff, and providing specialised and relevant training for current qualified staff members.  
“Recognising these immediate challenges are okay, however the obvious question is what is being done to respond to them and also to evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st  century,” Denbow noted.
He opined that Guyana and more specifically the GCAA may have been too slow in reacting to the dynamics of the International Civil Aviation Community with respect to these issues. He said since 1993, it has not been in full conformity with international standards and recommended practices. The local aviation sector is now subject to ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit, Denbow said. This comprehensive systems approach for the conduct of safety oversight audits has to maintain as core elements the safety provisions contained in, personnel licencing, aircraft operations, aircraft air worthiness, air traffic control services, air traffic services, accident investigations and aerodromes.

The need for a national airline was stressed by Denbow, who said in a quotation by author Dr Bing Chang, ‘Civil aviation is an instrument of one’s foreign policy’. It is not wise for the local sector to depend on the services offered by foreign airlines, he added, and cited the more than 20 airlines that have come and gone from these shores. The lack of overseas training for staffers in the aviation sector was also cited by the board chairman.

For 2014, several goals will be pursued by the GCAA, according to its chairman. These include providing leadership in the development of a National Aviation Policy, reviewing the Civil Aviation Act 2000, strengthening the capacity of the GCAA, modernising the CJIA and Ogle International Airport along with hinterland airstrips, implementing and enforcing regulations for oversight of domestic operations, training in various fields such as air traffic management, aviation safety, security, economics, air worthiness and air law. The GCAA will push to promote air transport with Guyana and to the rest of the world, he added. “Therefore our air transport directorate will need to expand and deal with the legal and economic aspect of civil aviation”.

In brief remarks, GCAA Director General Zulficar Mohamed said that given the pace of advances technologically and new regulations coming into force, Guyana will find itself  “in a black hole” if it does not keep up. The GCAA, he said is already in the process of modernising its operations, management systems, data and communications networks, with surveillance capabilities earmarked for future improvement. Guyana remains challenged in terms of sourcing specially trained personnel, Mohamed said and its current Category 2 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rating will be improved to a Category 1 once all requirements can be adequately met.               
He outlined the huge increases in passengers travelling,  as well as the increased tonnage of cargo being moved over the last decade in particular,  and noted that given the interest from markets such those in the Middle East and China, the CJIA in particular will need expanding to keep up with future demands.

The ceremony saw 11 pilots, 5 engineers and more than 15 other aviation staffers being awarded for more than 20 years of service to the industry. (GINA)