By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trans Guyana Airlines Michael Corriea on Tuesday (January 21) in rejecting reports that the aircraft that fell out of the sky on Saturday, January 18 was overloaded said his company strictly observes all required weight limitations.
He explained that it is firstly the pilot’s responsibility to ensure that his aircraft is not overloaded and shudder to think that the now dead Pilot, Blake Slater who flew the Cessna Caravan, 8R-HGS, would fly an overloaded aircraft.
iNews was informed that there were seven barrels of fuel onboard the aircraft at the time of the accident. The fuel is said to have weighed just over 2,800 pounds, with the maximum cargo requirement being 3,000 pounds. The maximum weight that the aircraft could carry is approximately 9,000 pounds.
This information was released moments after the bodies of the dead Pilot, Blake Slater and Cargo Loader, Dwayne Newton arrived at the Ogle International Airport. The two perished in the crash.
iNews also learnt that there was no cargo wall fitted within the aircraft and the seven barrels of fuel shifted from the back to the front of the aircraft. While investigations will commence shortly by both the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), who has already secured the crash site, and Trans Guyana to determine indefinitely the specifics of the crash and what led to the death of the two, the shifting of the cargo remains a concern and is in fact believed to have contributed to the demise of the two.
Corriea explained that having aircraft fitted with a cargo wall is not a GCAA requirement. On this note, Chief Executive Officer of the Ogle Airport Anthony Mekdeci explained that the custom is to tie down the cargo, which was the reason that Newton was aboard the flight. He said however that they may look to commence using cargo nets in the near future to ensure that in similar circumstances, the cargo remains put.
Meanwhile, concerns were also raised in relation to the emergency locator transmitter (ELT – distress radio beacon) which failed to go off. The ELT was fitted to the aircraft and is designed to go off on impact, during a crash, which then sends out a signal which is used to locate the aircraft.
Corriea told reporters that in this case the aircraft was badly damaged and the ELT should have been triggered. He said the Aircraft is fitted with an Artex 406 ELT, which was said to be the most modern. The Trans Guyana CEO said there were several other planes that crashed in the past where the ELT did not go off, and registered his concern in this regard.
He said this incident reinforces several things that are absent in relation to local search and rescue operations. Firstly, he believes it reinforces the need for more helicopters to be involved in the operations, taking into consideration the difficulties experienced using the aircraft they had. There were two helicopters involved in this search and rescue operation.
Corriea also said that larger helicopter may also be needed for densely forested area, for example the Bell 360 which the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is currently in possession of. Trans Guyana said they will conduct their independent investigation in a bid to get to the core of what caused the crash. The Airline also noted its intention to seek international assistance in this regard.
During today’s press conference a moment of silence was observed for the two deceased. According to Chief Finance Manager of Trans Guyana, Nicola Corriea, the company will be meeting with the family of the deceased to address issues relating to compensation. She made it clear however that the two was part of the ‘Trans Guyana family’ and they will be taken care of accordingly.
She told the media conference that both the aircraft and the crew were insured and benefits in that regard should be forthcoming within a year’s time.
Dwayne Newton has been employed by Trans Guyana for approximately 10 years. He joined the company as a Handyman in July 2004 and was later promoted to Aircraft Loader – a position of considerable responsibility for the safety and security of the cargo. He was just 28 – years –old.
Meanwhile, Captain Blake Slater joined the company just three years ago as a Junior Pilot and became a command Pilot on the Cessna Grand Caravan in April, 2013. He has a total of over 3,000 flying hours and was said to be a thoroughly disciplined Pilot.
Reports indicated that he crashed just after 2-3 minutes of takeoff (2.8miles) from Olive Creek. The Head Pilot said he was believed to be flying at 1,500 – 2,000 feet high. The aircraft had a general maintenance on December 30, 2013 and an inspection on January, 7, 2014. There were no recorded technical problems on the day in question.
His distress signal was heard by five pilots who then relayed the information to Ogle. The pilot was only able to give out half of his required coordinates before the plane crashed within seconds.
“We pledge to do everything possible to determine the cause of this accident. We are fully cooperating with the civil aviation authorities… we share in the frustration experienced over the length of time that it took to locate the aircraft in the first place, it took a little over 24 hours and the frustration over the time it took to complete the recovery and extraction,” a statement from Trans Guyana stated.