–Venezuelans, local businessman fingered
SEVERAL persons are in police custody helping with investigations into the landing of a private chartered aircraft with a suspicious-looking registration number at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on Monday afternoon.
The Beechcraft 200 aircraft, which landed around 15:20hrs Monday, is reportedly linked to a local businessman who runs an airline service.
According to reports, the flight originated in Barcelona, in northern Venezuela, and that
on Tuesday morning, four passengers on the aircraft presented themselves at CID Headquarters of their own accord.
They were followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of the aircraft’s two pilots accompanied by ranks from the Customs Anti-Nacotics Unit (CANU).
According to the police, all six men, two of whom are lawyers, are Venezuelans.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the police said that in keeping with enhanced security postures and intensified collaboration with management of the various units and agencies operating at the airport, CANU ranks were alerted to the arrival of the aircraft and on conducting a preliminary inspection of it discovered certain irregularities which were promptly reported to the higher authorities.
They said that further investigations would later reveal that all six Venezuelans were invited here by one Mr. Michael Brassington, who was at the airport to receive them, and that the “Handling Permission Form” had Roraima Airways Inc. Listed as the aircraft’s handling agent.
Yet further enquiries would reveal that the YV2593 registration number on the aircraft might very well be false, as another aircraft reportedly belonging to the Venezuelan military has that identical number, as confirmed by the “Data Plate” which contains some very vital information.
This latter bit of information has reportedly raised questions about the flight, if indeed it is true.
A high-level team of local officials, among them heads of aviation bodies, on Tuesday travelled to the CJIA to help with investigations into the incident.
According to sources, Brassington, who has a checkered past in aviation circles abroad, is the former president of a luxury charter company whose jet had barrelled off New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport runway back in 2005, injuring 14 persons in the process.
For that incident, he was reportedly sentenced in 2011 to 2½ years in prison, since according to the judge, he did not believe the crash was as a result of regulatory violations.
Media reports in the U.S. say that the man and his brother, Paul, both of whom operated the now defunct Platinum Jet Management LLC out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, apologised to the judge and the 14 victims of the crash, and maintained they never intended to hurt anyone.
The two brothers were convicted in November 2010 after the jury found that they had put profits ahead of safety in a scheme designed to overload their aircraft with cheap fuel.
The older of the two brothers, Michael, who besides being president also served as the company’s chief operating officer and chief pilot, was portrayed by prosecutors as the architect of a scheme to defraud passengers, charter brokers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other stakeholders in the aviation industry by misrepresenting his company’s compliance with safety regulations.