Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pilot error or plane likely cause of crash – Goveia

All systems at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri were up and running when the Caribbean Airlines (CAL) jet crashed there early Saturday says veteran pilot Gerry Goveia who suggested that pilot error or the plane itself is likely the cause of the accident.

While stressing the need to wait on the investigators’ report for definitive answers, Goveia- who owns his own airline – said that there are three things that can cause an aircraft accident: the man, the machine and the environment. “Nothing was wrong with the environment, nothing was wrong with the airport, nothing was wrong with the weather,” he told Stabroek News in an interview yesterday. “This accident is either the plane or the pilot. Not the airport, not the environment…it was the man or the machine,” he said.

Goveia said that standards at the CJIA are not the issue in relation to the crash-landing. It was noted that this was being raised by the Trinidadian media. “There’s no issue with the runway lighting. Our runway lighting are fully to the level of ICAO standards. The Air Traffic Control System is right there as well,” he said. In addition, he said, the instrument approach system has nothing to do with this accident. “That night there was no fog, there was light rain at the airport and whether there was fog or there was light rain or whatever it was, the decision to land is the pilot’s sole responsibility”, he said.

In relation to the runway being “too short,” Goveia said: “there’s nothing like a (runway) being too short.” He explained that planes operate into airstrips of a determined class and a category. “The physical dimension matches the manufacturing safety for these airplanes,” he said. “Aviation is an exact mathematical science.” Further, Gouveia stressed that the CJIA is approved by all international agencies for all weather, night and day operation. “Timehri airport is a fully approved airport that meets all international standards. If not, Caribbean Airlines themselves would be delinquent to operate into an airport that is not approved,” he observed.

Gouveia noted that the type of aircraft that operates at CJIA needs 6000 feet but the runway is 7500 feet. “These planes are approved to land on runways of this level because of the speed at which they land at so, so long as they land on the correct spot on the runway, the reverse thrust and the brakes are meant to stop this airplane way, way, way before the end of the runway,” he explained. As long as the plane touches down at the threshold and at the right speed, the brakes and the reverse thrust will stop the aircraft, he said. With regards to slickness of the runway, he said that if there is a heavy downpour, there will be water but the runways are built so that water runs off quickly.

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