The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) on Tuesday expressed grave concern about the security and maintenance of airstrips, in the wake of an aircraft running off the Paramakatoi runway earlier this week.
Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Zulfikar Mohammed confirmed that a plane ran off the airstrip on Monday and that an investigation was underway. Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) was told that the Cessna 206, bearing registration number 8R-SUP, ran off the airstrip. No one was injured and the aircraft received minor damage.
Operations Manager for Air Services Limited (ASL), Annette Arjoon explained that the plane was taking foodstuff from Mahdia to Paramakatoi for the school dormitory when it encountered difficulties. “On approaching Paramakatoi Airstrip, he encountered a strong cross-wind and on top of that cows ran across the runway and so in order to avert hitting the cows he ran off the runway but he was not hurt and the aircraft will be repaired. It is not major or serious,” he said.
Arjoon expressed grave concern about the presence of animals on runways and appealed to captains and other community leaders to take urgent steps to keep them off the aviation thoroughfares. She noted that in many instances, the wired fences are destroyed to create shortcuts for animals to cross rather than go around. “Even though the authorities- in this case the Ministry of Public Works are fencing those airstrips, people will cut the fence and allow their animals through,” she said.
AOAG spokesman, Kit Nascimento lamented that the presence of animals on government-owned runways is a major problem due to insufficient supervision. He was unsure whether the cutting of airstrip fences was a major reason for cattle going on runways but he cited poor maintenance. “The fencing is not properly maintained. The administration of the airstrips which is the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority is not being carried out,” he said.
Nascimento said the AOAG planned to meet with the Ministers of Tourism and Transport again to discuss its concerns about aviation oversight and security. He noted that a presidential Competitiveness Strategy Council has long approved a Policy and Action Plan on Aviation but it has remained on the shelf. “We have seen little or no sign of it being taken seriously or implemented,” he said.