ATCO relocated, two others warned following control tower walk out

An Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) has been relieved of his duties at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) control tower, while two others have been let off with a warning. The three men were at the center of a fiasco that saw one of them walking out of the airport’s control tower while an aircraft was approaching for landing.

A report on the incident which took place on March 8 last, was recently handed over to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) Board of Directors. It was recommended that the ATCO who walked out of the tower be relocated to another section within the aviation body, while the other two received written warnings about their conduct on the day in question.

It was reported that the ATCO who walked out of the control tower had complained to his supervisor about feeling ill and not being relieved of his shift. The ATCO who had the next shift had not turned up for work and had reportedly texted his supervisor to say that he too was ill.

When no one came to relieve the first ATCO, he abandoned the control room. By this time, a Caribbean Airlines flight from Trinidad and Tobago was within the airport’s proximity and ready to land. It was not until the supervisor reportedly dashed to the control tower that the flight which had already circled the airport was able to land minutes later.

The supervisor and his subordinates were relieved of their duties for some two months and later returned on administrative duties.

Chairman of the GCAA’s Board, Hugh Denbow told Guyana Aviation that the Authority’s management committee conducted the investigation into the incident and later provided the report; following which, recommendations were made.

The Chairman expressed his personal view that the ATCOs should have received harsher sanctions given their conduct. “I think they should be fired,” Denbow opined. He said it was recommended however that re-training be conducted to up the controllers’ capabilities.

Minister of Transport Robeson Benn said during a press conference last week that the incident was a serious one. He said a lot has been invested in the aviation arena.

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