- Third plane crash in just over a month
…body of pilot expected to be removed today
By Lakhram Bhagirat
The aviation fraternity was on Sunday thrown into yet another state of mourning after receiving news that Captain Imran Khan had lost his life when the Cessna 206 (8R-GFM) aircraft he was piloting went down some three miles west of Mahdia in Region 8 (Potaro-Siparuni).
The 41-year-old Captain Khan of Essequibo Coast, Region Two, had been attached to Air Services Limited, and was flying from Chi-Chi to Mahdia when his aircraft went down.
Fying solo, Captain Khan was reportedly expected to arrive at Mahdia at 08:47 hrs, but was a ‘no show’. However, at 09:08hrs, an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal for the said aircraft was identified as coming from an area west of Mahdia.
Captain Rawle Seecharan, flying a Britten-Norman Islander owned by BK Air, first spotted the wreckage.
Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), retired Colonel Egbert Field, confirmed that the plane was scheduled to land at 8:47 hrs on Sunday, but did not make the landing. He added that the ELT signal locating the crash site was picked up, and immediately after a rescue operation was mounted with troops from the Guyana Defence Force 31 Special Forces Squadron involved in the operation. The GDF had also deployed a helicopter to support the SAR Mission, and launched Operation Hawkeye to recover the pilot and aircraft.
However, because of the mountainous terrain, SAR operators had to trek to the crash site, where they found the lifeless body of Captain Imran Khan. Because of the time constrains, the rescuers had to stay with the body overnight at the crash site.
“The Special Forces reached the site, and unfortunately the pilot did not make it, so what we are working on now is for them to leave at the crack of dawn, so we could bring out the body to Ogle,” Annette Arjoon-Martins, President of the National Air Transport Association, (NATA) said.
Arjoon-Martins, also closely connected to the operations of Air Services Limited, said Captain Khan had been with ASL for more than seven years, and had been very experienced. She added that the route from Chi-Chi to Mahdia is Khan’s regular flight, and she was unclear what had transpired to cause the aircraft to go down.
Khan had apparently been shuttling goods when the craft went down. The GCAA has sent a team to the crash site and an investigation has been launched to determine what had transpired.
On August 8, a single-engine Cessna aircraft piloted by Captain Dominique Waddell was taking off from the Eteringbang airstrip in Region 7 when it crashed. The Wings Aviation plane was on a shuttling mission from Eteringbang to Ekereku when the incident occurred at around 11:00hrs.
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has since launched an investigation into the incident, to “ascertain the circumstances leading to the crash of a single-engine CESSNA aircraft bearing registration number 8R-GPR.”
A source close to the GCAA’s investigative team has said the recent plane crash at Eteringbang airstrip in Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) on August 8th may be due to the pilot overloading the aircraft.
The source added that when the aircraft took off it tilted back too much, causing it to ascend at ‘too steep’ an angle, and the centre of gravity shifted further, causing the plane to stall. It was further explained that when a plane stalls it goes nose down and has a tendency to pull left and that is exactly what transpired, and concretizes the fact that the aircraft was overloaded.
On July 25, Captain Collin Martin, a retired Guyana Defence Force Major, was piloting a Roraima Airways aircraft when it crashed, killing him almost instantly. Martin perished after the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft he was operating crashed on landing at Eteringbang. Reports are that Captain Martin, who was alone at the time, was approaching the runway at the border location when he lost control of the aircraft bearing registration 8R-GRA.
That same aircraft had, in August 2016, sustained substantial damage after it had encountered mechanical problems during take-off at Eteringbang. The pilot lost control of the aircraft at the time and later crashed in a valley during an aborted take-off attempt.