Why the secrecy?
By Michael Younge
Captain Gerry Gouveia said there was urgent need for the findings of various investigations into mishaps in the aviation sector to be released and made public as the cloud of secrecy that hovers over these cases is not helping the industry.
Gouveia, the chief executive officer of Roraima Airways, is considered an expert as well as pioneer in the local aviation industry. He criticised the fact that stakeholders here could not gain access to the recommendations made at the end of probes into mishaps and incidents occurring involving flights that take off from the country’s second international airport at Ogle. Gouveia said something must be done by those in authority to correct this worrying trend as operators in the aviation sector need to learn from the mistakes made by others, so as to develop best practices and avoid them in the future.
He did not understand the rationale behind keeping the findings under lock and key and away from key players within the industry, explaining that it is hindering the further development of an otherwise excellent aviation sector.
“I don’t believe we are doing it as correctly as it should be done,” he said, referring to the probes.
“When we are finished the investigations… the public and the professionals in the industry… should know every one of these findings so that we could correct, surgically what that problem was,” he insisted. Gouveia also lobbied for the findings to be published in the media so that they can be duly scrutinised, arguing that the challenges faced will continue unless the status quo changes.
Captain Gouveia has welcomed the announcement by Transport and Hydraulics Minister Robeson Benn that government plans on heightening the surveillance of the sector following the recent string of mishaps.
But in the same breath, he said the minister could be missing the bigger picture if the aforementioned issues are not addressed.
He praised the level of professionalism and standards that are in place and operational at the Ogle International Airport, declaring that the pilots and other staff there are the best within the country and further afield.
The Roraima chief executive officer dismissed as false any notion that there is a lack of adequate safety and security standards in place at the airport which led to the many incidents over the past six months. He appeared to be saying at great length that while there was room for more to be done to improve the situation, there was a need for those criticising Ogle to accept the bare facts.
“With the number of flights we are doing, with the number of passengers we are moving, how many deaths have we had? How many incidents have we had? And if you look at those statistics you will find that Guyana sits at the top of the world in terms of aviation safety. Amongst the top countries in the world that pay very close attention to aviation safety,” he said.
“People may say look all of us are entitled to our own opinion,” he said, but “we are not entitled to our own facts”.
“… So if you would say to me that in Guyana aviation safety is a problem, tell me why, don’t tell me what you perceive and what you think, tell me what the facts are,” he stressed.
Captain Gouveia said there may be need for Guyana to consider establishing a body that is separate from its civil aviation authority to probe the few instances of accidents. He also suggested that that authority could be the subject of any probe if it is found that there was any failure on its part, including to diligently impose sanctions when operators were found lacking.
He has also lobbied for the testing of pilots, and aviation personnel in general, for drugs and alcohol as a means of moving forward. He pointed out that pilots already undergo routine medical examinations and are engaging in constant refresher courses in their field.
Gouveia has also expressed concern that while Guyana seems to understand the need to mount effective search-and-rescue missions when emergencies occur, it does not seem to fathom the importance of being better equipped to handle these emergencies.
He wasted no time in pointing out that there must never be an occasion where the Bell 412 is inoperable or down as he reflected on hardships encountered utilising equipment and helicopters that were not suitable for the terrain in the recent search-and-rescue mission after the Trans Guyana Airways plane went down last week. He explained the helicopters used did not have the power to get the men to the jungle site where the plane went down.
“That is why we need the Bell 412, which was parked at the airport, which apparently had a maintenance problem… and still do have a maintenance problem. That is like having a fire engine not working. And you’re saying we have a fire engine, it’s parked, it’s not working. We should never have an occasion where that aircraft is not working,” he opined.
Source: Guyana Times