LETTER: Gov’t should invest more in aviation sector as it relates to search and rescue

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Dear Editor,

General aviation is in crisis and the President needs to get the general aviation sector reviewed from top to bottom. This is no joke!

My sympathy to the family, loved ones and friends of the perished pilots.

The lives of the flying public are at stake and the affordability of flying. I shudder at the thought of flying and whether it is still safe within Guyana, and the cost of insurance for the aircraft operators (due to frequent aircraft crashes resulting in many claims) which must be passed onto the public.

I say that general aviation is in crisis because we have had three airplane crashes with two fatalities by three operators, including another mishap and incident by an operator all within a few months. This isn’t normal in a country with a very small aviation sector.

What is happening to our general aviation sector? There is a problem and it needs to by addressed immediately before we have more significant loss of lives. These problems can be one or a combination of several factors including training, morale, poor oversight, pilot error, mechanical, weather, air traffic, poor loading, aging aircraft, etc.

I know the most glaring factor that came from these crashes and all the others in recent years, the GDF has limited and almost no search and rescue capabilities and arrive at the scene too late to save lives and extract any survivors. Please don’t fool yourselves, those brave GDF special forces ranks risking their lives to get to the crash site are limited due to the lack of a large helicopter support to rappel and conduct any extraction at the crash scene of any critically injured persons. The government is responsible for search and rescue and should immediately equip the GDF to perform these tasks. Do we know whether an earlier arrival with significant capabilities at the crash scenes could have saved lives? It is taking too long to get the courageous ranks to the crash scene without the typical search and rescue tools.

A failure to make it a Government priority and invest in the necessary search and rescue helicopters with equipment makes it highly probable, that any crash with multiple survivors will be a national embarrassment for the coalition government since crash victims in our rugged hinterland will more than likely perish and be given no hope or chance of urgent medical care. This is due to the tardy arrival at crash scenes owing to limited or no search and rescue capabilities by the GDF.

I hope the government sees the need to protect the tens of thousands of us flying around the hinterland. The Government owes us a timely rescue with the best capabilities to improve our chances of survival. This is not the responsibility of a private company being paid to use their aircraft or getting a contract or asking private companies to use their aircraft gratis.

This is 2017 and the government needs to take their search and rescue role and responsibility very seriously and act now before a major airplane crash. All Guyanese, should we ever become a plane crash victim, should be provided immediate and timely rescue and critical medical care to survive.

A plane crash should not be a death sentence for the survivors awaiting urgent and timely medical care.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Rodrigues

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