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Matthew’s Ridge air crash: Pilot to face “judgment” questions

Aviation experts say that the pilot’s judgment would be a key factor in determining what was  responsible for last Monday’s air crash of a domestic plane at Matthew’s Ridge, North West District.

A number of esxperts believed that the aircraft stalled while flying too low and hit trees in the area.

Air Services Limited (ASL) has confirmed that the Cessna Caravan crashed around 8:15 AM about one mile from the Matthew’s Ridge airstrip. No one was killed but the pilot and 12 passengers were treated for relatively minor injuries.

One of the passengers recalled hearing a beeping which, according to experts, was the stall-warning horn aboard the single-engine plane registered 8R-AMS.

Experts told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that if the pilot could not have seen the airstrip due to poor visibility, she should have returned to the Ogle International Airport.

“When the weather is bad, that doesn’t mean that a plane should crash. It means the pilot has to fly to the minimum safety altitude,” a pilot said. He believed that the pilot was circling in search of the runway and “slowed down the plane too slow.”

“She probably had intermittent visibility of the runway and she probably was positioning herself and so she was probably too low and too slow,” the aviation expert added.

Officials said that the minimum safety altitude for that area is 4,000 feet in conditions of extremely poor visibility.

Captain Feriel Ally remains grounded until the investigation by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is completed. Depending on how soon and detailed the information is provided to investigators, the probe could take between one to six months.

After the probe, the expert said the GCAA would most likely recommend that the “good pilot who is well-trained and experienced” undergo a refresher to address elements like making judgments.

The experts believe that President Donald Ramotar should appoint a special investigation team in case the GCAA might have lapsed in monitoring and evaluating ASL and its crew.  The expert opined that if that is the case a sole GCAA probe could result in a cover-up. “The Civil Aviation (Authority) is the regulator and the regulator could very well be the one at fault,” the expert said, adding that in the US investigations are left to the National Transportation Safety Board rather than the regulator.

However, GCAA Director General Zulfikar Mohammed maintained that his organisation is the competent authority to conduct such investigations. “The GCAA has been doing it for a long while because there is expertise,” he said.