A number of safety, transportation and regulatory bodies from local and overseas have been included in an investigative team probing the emergency landing of Fly Jamaica flight OJ256 on November 9 at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
This is according to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who, during the 99th Sitting of the National Assembly on Monday, revealed that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is conducting an independent investigation into the incident.
“GCAA will be conducting this investigation,” Patterson explained. “As indicated, 128 persons were on board. On evacuation, a total of 10 passengers were taken to the Diamond hospital with the assistance of CJIA ambulance, while the others were examined at CJIA. An independent investigation is ongoing in examining the aircraft and operations on the morning of the accident and review of the standard operating procedures.”
“The Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States were notified. An investigative team has been established, including of the GCAA representing the state of occurrence, the US National Safety Board representing the state of registry, and commercial airline engineers representing the manufacturers,” Patterson explained.
Besides these agencies, Patterson revealed, the Canadian Transportation and Safety Board and the AIG Regional Cooperation Mechanism (ARCM) were also subsequently advised and invited to provide technical assistance to the GCAA.
Patterson also revealed that the aircraft has been officially handed over to the operator, Fly Jamaica Airways, for removal from the CJIA site. He stressed, however, that the aircraft is still subject to the control of the Accident Investigation Unit of the GCAA.
Further, the minister extended apologies for the alleged actions of some members of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS). At least 14 firefighters were implicated in removing several devices belonging to the crew and passengers after they had entered the plane as first responders to the accident.
One of the firemen has reportedly returned some of the stolen items, while some of the stolen items were found at the Timehri Fire Station. Fire Chief Marlon Gentle has since confirmed in sections of the media that the firefighters who were accused of misconduct have been suspended pending the outcome of ongoing investigations.
Meanwhile, Patterson explained that, based on preliminary reports, all emergency procedures were activated when the plane landed, and the team at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) was placed on standby.
The minister also revealed that the pilot did not declare an emergency at the time. Instead, according to Patterson, it was reported to air traffic control that there was a hydraulic issue and the flight will return.
The aircraft had taken off from CJIA at about 02:10h on November 9, 2018, destined for Toronto, Canada. However, the flight encountered hydraulic problems after some time, and returned to Timehri, where it crash-landed.
85-year-old Rookhia Kalloo, a pensioner who was on the flight, died while receiving treatment at a medical facility one week after the incident.
Following last week’s incident, investigators will finally be able to access data that would indicate exactly what went wrong, because the Flight Data Recorder (Black Box) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (Pink Box) have both been sent to the NTSB in the United States.
NTSB is an independent US Government agency that overlooks investigations into air transportation accidents. On Saturday last, an NTSB investigator arrived in Guyana in order to work with GCAA and other stakeholders at the crash site.