AT approximately 10:25 hrs yesterday morning, Caribbean Airlines flight BW 662 was proceeding on a scheduled flight from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Timehri to Piarco International airport in Trinidad when it ingested a bird in its left engine. This incident occurred two minutes after takeoff at an altitude of three thousand (3000) feet. The bird strike disabled the left engine of the aircraft which resulted in an emergency landing back at CJIA, eleven minutes after being airborne.
All emergency equipment and personnel at CJIA including Aerodrome Rescue and Firefighting were prepared for the arrival of the Caribbean Airlines aircraft. Preliminary inspection conducted by CAL senior engineer Mr Bryan Latchman revealed that several fan blades were damaged.
As a result, the aircraft was grounded. Mr Latchman further stated that CAL has since dispatched a maintenance support team from Trinidad to assist in the repairs of the engine. Up to press time, the team of engineers was working feverishly to repair the badly damaged engine of the Caribbean Airlines’ jetliner that is expected to cost millions of Guyana dollars. However, Mr. Latchman is optimistic that the aircraft would be serviceable shortly.
A total of one hundred and fifty eight (158) persons were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, six of whom were crew members. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft, Registration 9Y-ANU, was commanded by Captain Richard Law and assisted by first officer Michael Abraham. Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Mr. Robeson Benn visited CJIA to have a firsthand look at the extent of the damage to the aircraft.
He was accompanied by the CEO of CJIA Mr Ramesh Ghir and representatives of CAL. Minister Benn was also briefed by CAL Representative Mr. Carl Stuart about the handling of the disembarked passengers – all of whom were subsequently placed on another CAL flight for Piarco. Minister Benn also spoke with the pilots of the disabled aircraft. He reiterated that, over the last two years, serious attention was placed on livestock, primarily poultry farms located in proximity of CJIA. He also stated that dumping of entrails from livestock in the vicinity of the airport constitutes a hazard to flight safety because it attracts wakes of vultures.
These vultures have an average weight of 2 kilogrammes and soar to altitudes in excess of five (5) thousand feet in the airport area. Large jetliners in the takeoff profile usually will be accelerating with speed upwards of 160 Knots. Striking a 2-kilogramme bird at that speed could be detrimental to flight safety. Minister Benn stated that his ministry will be working closely with all stakeholders in ensuring that aircraft safety is paramount after the CAL incident yesterday. This incident is the first of its kind to occur at CJIA. Captain Richard Law and his Crew must be complimented for the professional way this emergency was handled resulting in no injuries, lost of life or additional damage to the aircraft.
Meanwhile, with respect to the airport’s operations, the Government Information Agency reported that a $700M programme is currently on-going which will facilitate the installation of the air navigation system equipment in the control tower. A significant amount of money was also allocated over the last year to improve the taxi ways and a new and advanced fire truck was secured.
“Three years ago there were issues with the grounding of the lighting systems on the run way and that issue has been overcome…we have kept apace with upgrading safety systems and safety awareness,” Minister Benn indicated. Given the nature of the everyday activities occurring at the CJIA, safety is critical. As such, significant up-grades to improve the over-all operations will be continuous.
Written by Mike Charles