Aviation Authority, local Pilot disagree on right to lead accident investigations

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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roraima Airways Captain Gerald Gouveia
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roraima Airways Captain Gerald Gouveia

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Veteran Pilot and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roraima Airways Captain Gerald Gouveia continues to raise concerns regarding the lead role that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) plays when investigating local aviation accidents.

Gouveia is reported as saying “it is really a question as to whether the Civil Aviation Authority ought to be doing such investigations since one can conceive of circumstances in which they themselves might be the subject of those investigations,” adding that the laws of the land allow for independent investigation of such accidents.

He has expressed fears that the Authority in so doing may find itself in situations where it investigates itself. It was also noted that the country’s President has the authority to set up special accident investigation teams.

On the other hand, the GCAA claims that these assertions by the Captain are misconceived. The Authority in a recent statement 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.”

It was further noted that 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 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.”

These concerns were raised after a Trans Guyana Aircraft crashed in the Mazaruni killing the Pilot and lone passenger; an accident which the GCAA has since assumed the lead role in investigating.

The veteran aircraft pilot also called for the outcome of investigations into aviation accidents to be put in the public domain. “There is really no reason why this should not happen. It allows for both technical and public assessments of what is happening in the sector. That way we can address the weaknesses in the sector while building confidence in the integrity of the industry” Gouveia was quoted in one section of the media as saying.

The GCAA in its statement did not respond directly to these calls but noted however that 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.”

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