What about that crash report?
By Vernon Khelawan Thursday, August 16 2012
AFTER more than a year, regional aviation observers are questioning the non-appearance of an “official report” on the Caribbean Airlines (CAL) crash of July 30 2011 at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana. Although the aircraft split in two, there were a few injuries but no fatalities.
The closest thing to a report were excerpts from a “preliminary” report published in that prestigious United States newspaper, the Wall Street Journal at the end of April last. Part of that report was carried in the Business Day of May 03 2012.
The article quoted from two interviews with the Head of Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority, Zulfikar Mohammed and claimed the preliminary report pointed to pilot error as the cause of the accident. The report added that crash investigators believed excessive speed and other suspected lapses in landing procedures caused the aircraft, with 163 passengers aboard, to skid off the runway, which is the shortest of all the destinations served by CAL’s jet fleet.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, industry and government officials hinted that the preliminary findings by investigators pointed to pilot error, rather than mechanical or other system malfunctions.
Guyana is officially in charge of the investigations, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, provided great assistance to the Guyanese authorities, with the NTSB having an unusually large contingent of seven persons during the initial investigations, for a crash that accounted for not one single death. One industry observer said the incident was relatively straightforward and he was at a loss to understand why it was taking so long for a final report on the crash to be released. He added the purpose of an accident investigation was “to determine both the proximate cause of the accident (whether pilot error or otherwise) as well as the cause of such cause.”
Giving an example, he said, “If it was pilot error, was it attributable to deficiencies in Caribbean Airlines’ crew training? Did the CAL simulator have a visualisation of a late night landing in mist at Georgetown in its system; and were the pilots trained on such tricky landings specifically?”
He described as “deplorable” the fact that for such a simple incident, since the aircraft, for all intents and purposes was intact, as were both black boxes (FRD and CVR), why has it been allowed to rest for more than a year with no interim conclusion and recommendations to correct the deficiencies behind it?
He added that it was well below the standard which the public has a right to expect. It was their safety that was put at risk in the incident and continues to be at risk until the causes are identified and measures put in place to minimise the possibility of a recurrence.
Meanwhile senior officials at Iere House, Piarco, Headquarters of Caribbean Airlines said they had not heard anything about a final report, neither have they received any official notification that one was on the way. They did confirm however, that both the pilot and the co-pilot had not resumed flying. It is understood however, that the co-pilot was pursuing other career options. They refused any further comment.
Ramesh Lutchmedial, Director General of the TTCAA, when asked about the final report told Business Day “the final report is being written by the Guyanese authorities as we speak”. He forecast that it should be released and become available to the public by November 2012.