Pilot made no distress call in final moments – GCAA

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Fatal plane crash at Eteringbang

– investigator on location, number of factors being probed

BY JARRYL BRYAN

With an investigation underway into the two plane crashes in the vicinity of the Eteringbang airstrip in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni region, it has emerged that in his final moments, late Roraima Airways Pilot Colin Winston Martin did not make any distress calls as his plane went down.
According to Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Colonel Egbert Field, the only report he received of the pilot’s last words was when he radioed in to report that he was about to land at Eteringbang. Field was also asked about preliminary results from the investigations.
“We have none. I can only give you a brief. The first accident took place while the aircraft was on approach,” Field related. “And the second accident took place after the aircraft took off from the runway. We do not have any findings as yet, but we are hoping for a definite position as to what caused the accidents.”
“We have to look at a number of areas. We have to look at the equipment. We have to look at the weather conditions. We have to look at the human factors and as we drill down, we will be able to ascertain what the cause of the accident was,” he continued.
However, he ruled out the age of the aircraft in both incidents being a factor in the crashes. Fields pointed to the system used by the GCAA to assess whether an aircraft is air worthy. He explained that the process for an aircraft to receive its certificate of air worthiness involves inspection of the aircraft by the GCAA.
“What the Authority concerns itself about is the quality of the maintenance,” he related. “And that’s the reason why we have inspectors who go out and undertake surveillance exercises and also ensuring the personnel within the organisation are properly certified.”
The Director General noted that aircraft parts have varying expiry dates. And when these parts have to be replaced, operators have strict codes that they have to adhere to.

Injured pilot Dominique Waddell
Late pilot Colin Martin

“We do not allow substitute parts on the aircraft. We do not allow parts which were made by persons other than the manufacturer. Only genuine parts are placed on the aircraft. And that is only part of the inspection, to ensure that parts are changed and they are genuine or new parts.”
He noted that operators have no choice but to comply with these directives from the GCAA. Failure to do so, he said, could lead to the revocation of the license of the operator. However he said that action such as this has not yet been taken because of the minor nature of current infractions.
On July 25, 2017, Martin, a former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officer who held the rank of Major, was killed after the aircraft he was piloting took a nosedive into thick vegetation around the Eteringbang Airstrip.
The 40-year-old of Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown, was alone at the time of the accident. He was reportedly heading to Eteringbang from Ekereku after a day’s work of shuttling fuel. At the time, he was piloting a Britten-Norman Islander aircraft with registration number 8R-GRA.
Then, on Tuesday morning, another plane crashed moments after the pilot took off from the Eteringbang airstrip. The plane was subsequently identified as a Wing’s Aviation single-engine Cessna aircraft. Pilot Dominique Waddell escaped without life-threatening injuries.