–touts credentials, says will not be lectured to
GUYANA Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Director-General, Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) Egbert Field has chided aviation operators who believe that the GCAA’s decision to temporarily ban shuttle operations was a knee jerk reaction to recent aircraft accidents.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday at his High Street Kingston office, Field made it clear that he will not be lectured to by anyone within the local aviation fraternity.
He made it clear that he is open to discussions, ideas and suggestions, some of which have been forthcoming and bear weight, but will not accept a lecture.
The former aviator told reporters that he has over 40 years of experience in aviation and has traversed military, commercial, and regulatory aviation, while noting that he has completed several accident investigation courses and “every conceivable course an inspector can do”, in addition to having on record over 19,000 flying hours on almost every local aircraft.
Field said too that he has flown several international aircraft and other aircraft that comprise single, two, three or four engines.
“This authority of well-trained individuals and this director-general will not be lectured to by any one in aviation in Guyana. We will listen to any constructive comments, we welcome suggestions and comments. There are a few comments made lately by members of the commercial aviation section which does hold some soundness and we will take that and embrace it,” declared Field.
Field was at the time responding to a statement made by Managing Director of the Roraima Airways, Captain Gerry Gouveia, who opined that the move to suspend shuttle operations here was a knee jerk one.
Gouveia, on his Facebook page in August, said that move is nothing more than an emotional reaction to the accidents which occurred.
“This is a knee jerk reaction. We have not done any real analysis to come to this conclusion,” he stated while noting that “shuttles do not cause accidents. The pilots still have to obey and observe the same rules of flying, same technical operations of the plane, same respect for safety altitudes.”
MONITORING AND OVERSIGHT
Gouveia believes that attention needs to be paid to increasing operational control and oversight, monitoring of pilots duty times, accelerating the implementation of the ADSB SYSTEM all across Guyana, establishing a proper search and rescue system equipped with a heavy lift helicopter, improving the national weather reporting system, the conditions of the hinterland runways, establishing security systems for the runways, organising more national aviation management safety seminars dealing specifically with the rudimentary of flying in Guyana’s jungle, establishing procedures for stabilising flights, and completing the GPS approaches that was started years ago for every runway here.
According to him, shuttle operations were birthed as a result of Guyana’s vast land space and the fact that the major commercial centre is located in Georgetown.
“In the past to transport supplies to the hinterland communities, the planes were loaded at Ogle and flown one hour into the hinterland, then returns empty to Ogle and start again. The cost of transporting supplies like that was expensive and slow, very slow.”
In light of Gouveia’s concerns which were publicised by the local media, Field said he believes strongly in working with operators.
“… I am not here to bring a big stick over anyone’s head but to run an aviation industry the way an aviation industry should be run. It will be run according to the dictate of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and not by the whims and fancies of anyone,” he declared.
The GCAA head also stressed that his instructions come from government and he has the support of the Chairman and Board of Directors of the Authority. He said he is not going to be side-tracked by any “fanciful back and forth squabbling with anyone”.
“[I am] not keeping a tunnel vision, it is going to be a funnel vision,” he stated while noting that shuttle operations are necessary.
Field told reporters that Guyana cannot develop without shuttle operations taking into consideration the fact that hinterland residents depend on the goods from the coastland.
NO WILD WEST
“But the shuttle operations will not be allowed to run like the Wild West as it was being run previously. I am here to set a structured movement, proper procedures and to have the shuttle operations done in the right format,” he remarked.
The GCAA boss made it clear that in the past, manuals for shuttle operations were never submitted to the authority before, and it is now a requirement in order to formalise the operations.
“We have to build this shuttle operation on a safe and risk management policy. To date, Trans Guyana is approved for shuttle operations; it is now going on approximately six weeks since these manuals were requested. At the time of suspension, no manual had been submitted. Two days after, some manuals were submitted… the only acceptable manual was Trans Guyana.”
That entity was required to make some corrections, but have since been allowed to continue shuttle flights while the other entities, Air Services Limited and Roraima Airways are yet to re-submit theirs. The duo had submitted one manual but was asked to provide manuals specific to each individual company.
“We are not going to take this situation lightly, aviation is not a joke, aviation is a serious business, it is done with precision and that is why it is one of the most regulated industries in the world, apart from the nuclear industry,” stressed Field who noted that the GCAA will continue to enhance air safety though it is stretched thin for human resources.
At the moment, the authority is in search for qualified persons to fill the posts of inspectors along with other ancillary positions. Field has also requested finance from the government to pay additional experts to carry out inspections.
That aside, he told reporters that officers of the authority are part of continuous training as capacity building is critical.
The director-general said too that he finds it strange that those critiquing the aviation system now failed to do so in the past.
“I wonder why all these critiques are being done now, when individuals who have been in this industry for years… and had close relationships with even the highest in the land, could not have made advances during that time to effect the necessary changes. Why the big critique… fine, some of them hold some truth but why wasn’t this done over the past number of years,” he questioned.