GCAA’s suspension of shuttle operations not a “knee jerk” reaction- Fields

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…says GCAA will not be lectured to by anyone in Aviation

By Ramona Luthi

Director General of the GCAA, Egbert Fields

In what appears to be an obvious response to comments being made by significant members of the Aviation sector describing the suspension of Shuttle Operations as a “knee jerk reaction,” Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Egbert Fields on Thursday dismissed these allegations while asserting that the Authority “will not be lectured in Aviation by anyone.”

“It has been reported to me that- and I have read in sections of the media- that one or two operators- I would not identify or call names- [have indicated] that this [Shuttle Suspension] is a knee jerk reaction of the Civil Aviation Authority. I would like to say this is not a knee jerk reaction,” he told media operatives.

Fields strictly asserted that the GCAA will be run according to the dictates of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and not by the “whims and fancies of anyone” while noting that his “instructions come from the government.”

“This Director General who has spent over 40 years of his life in aviation, who has traversed military aviation, commercial aviation, regulatory aviation, who has done accident investigation courses, every conceivable course that an inspector can do, who has over 18, 19,000 flying hours on almost every single aircraft in Guyana, who has flown international aircraft…who flown single engine, two engines, three engines, four engines aircraft, will not be lectured to by anyone in Aviation.”

Nevertheless, he noted that the GCAA comprises of well-trained individuals who are open for constructive comments and suggestions.

“There are a few comments which have been made lately by members of the commercial aviation activity by the industry which does hold some soundness and we will take that and embrace it but we will not be lectured to. I will make that very clear” said Fields.

Fields further stated that he is ready to work with operators and assist them, but again emphasised that he will not be side tracked by any “fanciful back and forth squabbling with anyone.”

During the latter part of last month, the GCAA ordered that all domestic shuttle operations be suspended until operators can provide Standard Operational Manuals and other documents showing how they conduct their business.

These documents would have to be reviewed and approved by the GCAA before operations can be resumed.

This measure was implemented as a result of the three recent crashes in the local aviation sector that resulted in the deaths of two pilots. It was later established that all of the planes crashed while on shuttle operations.

After ordering the suspension, the GCAA met with domestic operators, who expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision.

Nevertheless, Fields had noted that the decision is necessary, since shuttle operations have expanded over the years, and this is the first time it is going to be fully regularised.

The GCAA boss acknowledged the impact the decision would have on the mining industry as well as on some Indigenous communities.

No specific period has been given for the ban to be lifted, but Fields has said he is hopeful the operators would submit their documents in a timely fashion.

Captain Gerry Gouveia

Since then, Captain Gerald “Gerry” Gouveia, Managing Director of Roraima Airways, has publicly stated that he sees no basis for the suspension, nor was there any real analysis done.

Gouveia said shuttling, which is basically short flights to transport goods and fuel between interior airstrips, does not cause accidents, while noting that “pilots should obey and observe the same rules of flying, same technical operations of the plane, and same respect for safety altitudes.”

He opined that instead of suspending the operations, there needs to be increased operational control and oversight, monitoring of pilots’ duty times, and establishment of a proper search-and-rescue system. In addition to the foregoing, he said, runways in the interior region should be improved, and there needs to be more training given in regard to air safety requirements.

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