Bigger choppers needed for search and rescue – TGA




The bodies of the pilot and a load handler were removed from the dense jungle in the Mazaruni even as local air carrier Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) announced that it will be seeking international assistance to help with the investigation into the plane crash that occurred Saturday last.

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The announcement was made on Tuesday at a special press conference held by the TGA management team at the Ogle International Airport (OIA).

TGA Chief Executive Officer Michael Correia said his company will do everything possible to determine the cause of the accident that resulted in the death of Canadian pilot Blake Slater and local load handler Dwayne Jacobs.

This process, he said has begun. “We are fully cooperating with the local civil aviation authorities and we will request whatever international assistance may be required,” he added.

Search and rescue

Correia told the media conference that it took a little over 24 hours to locate the aircraft and another few hours to remove the bodies of the two dead men. On this note, he is recommending better helicopter support and advanced technologies to rappel a search and rescue team.

The company’s CEO said the two Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopters were not suitable for the search and rescue mission. He said the use of a more powerful helicopter would have been effective, making reference to the GDF Bell 412.

Questioned as to whether there was any suspicion that the aircraft was overloaded, Correia said this was never the case. He noted that the aircraft weighed 2800 pounds and contained seven drums of diesel.

Correia said the flight was taking fuel from Olive Creek to Imbaimadai, a regular operation.

According to him, the company will be seeking answers about why the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was not activated on impact to allow the Search and Rescue (SAR) team to pin-point the precise location, where the plane crash-landed.

He told the media that records show that the Artex 406 ELTs, which is recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, have not emitted signals in a number of other crashes. The company, he said, changed from the less accurate ELT in 2009, to a device referred to as the Artex.

Cooperation

The TGA, he said has been cooperating fully with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and said it would also seek to encourage experts from the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System and the engine manufacturer to also investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, as it relates to compensation for the victims, TGA’s Chief Finance Officer Nicole Correia said both the pilot and loader are covered by insurance. She said the families of the victims will be able to access the scheme within a year’s time.

In clarifying whether the company has sought to reach out to any of the victim’s family members, the chief financial officer said that both families were contacted and were told of the incident.

The company, she said, stands ready to support both families financially and otherwise and have been in constant contact with them.

The body of pilot Slater was found strapped to his seat while cargo loader Jacobs was discovered outside of the aircraft on Monday. He was not far away from the wrecked aircraft.

The aircraft, a single engine, 13-seater Cessna Caravan with registration number 8R-GHS had disappeared out of the sky about 10:56h on Saturday.

The last contact with the pilot of the aircraft was a “Mayday” (emergency call) which was transmitted to another aircraft within the area at the time. The aircraft had departed for Imbaimadai about 10:54h after overnighting at Olive Creek.

Location

The plane was spotted on Sunday about 12:35h after an estimated 11 hours of searching by a GDF helicopter.  The area is said to be in the vicinity of the Marikina Mountain.

Slater had joined TGA three years ago as a junior pilot and became a command pilot on the Cessna Grand Caravan in April 2013. He was born in Canada but his mother is Guyanese. He had more than 3000 flying hours of which 2522 were on the caravan.

Jacobs joined TGA as a handyman in July 2004 and was promoted to aircraft loader, as a result of his commitment to the job.

The bodies of the pilot and cargo loader were taken out of the jungle late Tuesday morning. They are at a mortuary awaiting post-mortem examinations.

Source: Guyana Times




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