Concerns raised about late notice to airlines about damaged CJIA runway lighting system

Last Updated on Monday, 10 June 2024, 21:39 by Writer

Aviation industry sources in Guyana were Monday afternoon expressing concern about the impact of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport’s (CJIA) late notification to the Control Tower that the runway lighting system was damaged by severe lightning during a thunderstorm.

A local aviator expressed grave concern at the financial impact of the late notification to airlines, questioning who would pay the hundreds of thousands of United States dollars for fuel, hotel bills and other costs associated with the disruption. “They had every opportunity to inform airlines to hold aircraft. Aircraft left and were only told that when they were overhead. This is nonsense. Who is paying for this?” the aviator told Demerara Waves Online News.

Well-placed sources said the Timehri area experienced bad weather conditions at about 3 p.m. Sunday, causing power outages shortly after. The CJIA is on record as saying that several Guyana Power and Light and airport transformers were damaged during the thunderstorm during Sunday “afternoon”.

Aviation sources said the Air Traffic Control Tower was not notified that the runway lights were knocked out until approximately 5:30 p.m. during a change-over of shift when an officer realised that there was a problem. According to well-placed CJIA sources, the airport administration then documented a request for the first NOTAM to all airlines at 7:43 p.m. (Guyana Time). That was issued to take effect from 8:30 p.m., Sunday, June 9, 2024 to 6 p.m. Monday, June 10, 2024 because the runway lighting system was operating on the alternate electrical circuit.

Airlines were subsequently informed via other NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen). One said there would have been no runway lights until 6 p.m. Monday, and a subsequent once said the runway was closed until sunrise Monday.

Sky High airline appeared to have been the first flight to have been affected by the apparent late notification by CJIA to the Tower, as its flight, DO 760, departed the Dominican Republic at 6:11 p.m. (Guyana/DR Time) or just over 2 hours before the first NOTAM was issued.

That flight was scheduled to land at approximately 8:32 p.m. Sunday (Guyana/DR Time) but instead diverted and landed in Suriname at 9:53 p.m. (Guyana Time) or 10:53 p.m. (Suriname Time).

A Guyana-bound JetBlue flight departed New York at 5:30 p.m. Sunday but diverted to Puerto Rico at approximately 9:25 p.m. Sunday, according to FlightRadar24.

With technicians from the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) and the CJIA having w0rked feverishly to replace transformers and repair the runway lighting circuits, airlines were informed at 2:30 p.m. Monday that the runway edge lights were operating on the alternate circuit.

Demerara Waves Online News was told that the circumstances surrounding the incident would be compiled in a report.

The CJIA on Monday night informed that the runway lighting system has been repaired and is now operational. The airport said it would now undertake a thorough evaluation of the current lightning protection system to enhance resilience against future lightning strikes.