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Guyana’s registration of military aircraft breaches International Civil Aviation Convention

Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Mark Phillips says the army and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) are studying a recommendation that a separate registry needs to be set up for military and other security aircraft because the country is breaching international law.

“That issue will be followed up with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority. We will have to have some further discussions. That is just a proposal that we we’ll have to have on the way forward,” Phillips has  told reporters.

The issue was first raised by GCAA Chairman, Hugh Denbow who said that for decades Guyana has been breaching Article 3 of the International Civil Aviation Convention that explicitly states that military, police, customs and similar aircraft should not be on the same registry as that for civilian aircraft.

Denbow said that for several decades successive governments of Guyana have until recently never been advised that that provision has been overlooked. “What we at the Guyana Civil Aviation (Authority) have discovered is that no one in the Civil Aviation prior since 1970 had the guts to tell the directorate about Article 3 of the Convention so today we at the Civil Aviation have to bell the cat,” said Denbow at the recent arrival ceremony for Jag’s Aviation’s brand new 2014 model Cessna Caravan airplane.

Denbow later told Demerara Waves Online News that the GDF’s numbering system on two of its helicopters do not include 8R, but he was not immediately sure whether that was because the army has been unable to acquire certification from the GCAA.

Asked what the implications for civilians flying aboard State aircraft that are on the civil registry were, he said only the GDF could say whether its planes and helicopters were covered by civil insurances and whether those extended to civilians.

He said the registration of State aircraft being used by military, customs and police was currently being discussed by the GCAA’s Board on which there is a GDF representative. “When we do otherwise, we are in violation of the Convention,” he added. He said the subject has created “heated debate” about the interpretation at the Board “which members are concerned about.”

Denbow explained that Guyana is among 191 countries that are signatories to the International Civil Aviation Convention that covers military, customs and police are deemed State aircraft. That international law says that no State aircraft shall fly over or land on the territory of another without authorization by special agreement or otherwise. ICAC signatory countries are required to ensure safety of navigation of civil aircraft.