Aviation sector…says GDF helicopter/equipment deterioratedBy Jarryl BryanThe Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Egbert Field, at a recent press conference, has lamented the deterioration of the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF’s) helicopters.He noted that Guyana does not have an adequate search-and-rescue helicopter,Director General of the GCAA, Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Egbert Fieldthat there is no navigational aid at the main airport outside a certain radius, and that this risky situation has been ongoing for years without rectification.This seemingly confirms some concerns raised by operators in the aviation sector.“An important element of search-and-rescue, which is a helicopter in the event of a crash…I don’t know why the GDF equipment was allowed to deteriorate to the point where they do not have a serviceable helicopter for search and rescue – which is the Bell 412 helicopter,” Field expressed.Field noted that the GCAA has sent a complement of its officers to countries like the USA, Peru and Mexico in order to conduct courses in search and rescue.“As NATA (National Air Transport Association) would tell you, from the first meeting I had with them, I touched on the topic of search-and-rescue,” Field related. “And I promised them that I will be taking a serious view of it.”In a letter to the media highlighting some of the deficiencies in the aviation sector,The GDF Bell 412 helicopter which is unserviceablethe Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roraima Airways, Captain Gerald ‘Gerry’ Gouveia, had zeroed in on problems besetting the local aviation sector, such as the lack of effective search-and-rescue operations, and the absence of air traffic control to help aircraft avoid mid-air collisions beyond a 75-mile radius of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).Probed about the situation, Field admitted that indeed there is no navigational assistance for pilots outside of the radius.“There are no navigational aids outside. We are looking at GPS, but then there would be an added cost for the operator, because the GPS is not (a) simple equipment. It would have to be sophisticated, and the GPS would have to be installed in the aircraft,” he explained.Gouveia’s letter had related that pilots have been making daily reports of highly unusual and unexpected weather conditions. He noted that pilots fly unassisted through vast airspace beyond the 75-mile airport radius, while depending primarily on their own radio contact with other planes in order to avoid mid-air collisions.In recommendations accompanying his observations, Gouveia had urged the authorities to ensure that air traffic control services are deployed at specific geographic locations beyond the 75-mile radius of CJIA.Gouveia’s critiques and recommendations came after several fatal and non-fatal accidents occurred recently. On July 25, Captain Collin Martin, a retired Guyana Defence Force Major, was piloting a Roraima Airways’ Britten-Norman Islander aircraft when it crashed on landing at Eteringbang, killing him almost instantly.Captain Imran Khan, 41, of Essequibo Coast, Region Two, also lost his life when the Air Services Limited’s Cessna 206 aircraft he was flying from Chi-Chi to Mahdia went down late last month.