Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cessna 421, HC-CIK: Guyana seizes Ecuadorian aircraft; Brazilian pilot missing

Brazilian pilot Goncola Ferreira Lima Neto

 The plane several weeks ago at the Ogle International Airport.


The repainted and renumbered aircraft on the Lethem Airstrip.

Guyanese police on Monday seized an Ecuadorian-registered airplane on an illegal airstrip but so far authorities were unable to say whether anything illegal was found on the aircraft.

Aviation Minister, Robeson Benn, however, said authorities were treating the movement and discovery of the Cessna 421 aircraft as suspicious.

“He did not arrive where he should have arrived and explanations given did not gel with what was seen in terms of the activities at the aircraft and also too in terms of where he should have been when he gave certain explanation to where he was when he called in,” Benn told a news conference.

Brazilian pilot Goncola Ferreira Lima Neto, the lone occupant, has not been located, according to Benn. “The pilot is being sought by the law enforcement,” he said.

The aircraft departed Guyana’s Ogle International Airport at 19:40 hours (GMT) Saturday for Boa Vista, Brazil and was discovered on Sunday on the illegal airstrip at Pirara, Rupununi in southern Guyana.

A search was launched after air traffic controllers received garbled radio communication from the pilot and eventually lost contact with him.

Sources say the Cessna aircraft, bearing the registration HCCIK, was found on the airstrip but tucked in under a forest canopy. “The important thing to note is that the aircraft did not crash-land,” said the source. He also allegedly filed an inaccurate flight-plan, said the source.

The source said the aircraft was originally blue and white but when it was found, it was painted red and white. Benn added that the registration number was also changed but he declined to say which country the new number represented.

At the time the aircraft was first spotted, according to sources, a truck was nearby either on-loading or offloading something.

Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Airworthiness inspectors are on the ground to determine whether the aircraft is safe enough to be flown to the coast for safe-keeping.

Investigators from the Guyana Police Force and the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) have been dispatched to the location. Benn could not immediately say whether guns, ammunition or drugs have been found. “The aircraft is being examined, off course, with some circumspection,” said Benn.

The Aviation Minister said since arriving from Trinidad, the aircraft had been here for two months ostensibly on a technical stop.

Ecuadorian authorities are to be notified and Guyanese authorities are to check their records to ascertain whether the airplane had previously visited Guyana.

Story and comments:   http://www.demerarawaves.com

Nothing illegal was found aboard the Ecuadorian-registered airplane that was seized Monday in Pirara, North Rupununi and the aircraft has been flown to Lethem for further inspection, officials said.

A senior official of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) also said that no one has been arrested. Brazilian pilot Goncola Ferreira Lima Neto has not been seen or heard from since.

The official explained that now that the plane is at Lethem more inspections would be conducted to ascertain whether it is fit enough to be flown to the coast for safe keeping.

The CANU official credited the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) with providing critical support to police and the anti-drug agency in locating and taking control of the twin-engine Cessna 421 aircraft.

Aviation Minister, Robeson Benn said the airplane was located on the illegal airstrip Sunday after air traffic controllers lost contact with the pilot.

Benn has said that Guyanese authorities are treating the movement and location of the aircraft as suspicious. Authorities said the pilot filed inaccurate information about the plane for the flight-plan to Boa Vista. When the craft was found, it was partly sprayed into different colors and its Ecuadorean registration, HC-CIK, was changed.

The plane arrived here two months ago and remained at Ogle International Airport on a “technical stop” until its departure at 3:40 PM (Guyana Time) on Saturday.

After an intensive search, the plane was spotted at 12:29 PM Sunday on the illegal airstrip partly hidden under the forest canopy.

Story and comments:  http://www.demerarawaves.com

Civil Aviation authorities and local law enforcement are trying to find a Brazilian pilot after his aircraft was found abandoned on an illegal airstrip, sprayed in a different color and with a changed registration number, just over a day after he set out for his homeland.

Pilot Gonçalo Ferreira Lima Neto, 41, who had previously been involved in a mishap a year ago in Brazil, was last heard from on Sunday, when his plane was sighted far off his projected pathway.

The plane was seized by Civil Aviation Authorities early yesterday morning at an illegal airstrip in the community of Pirara in Region 9. “The aircraft was at an illegal airstrip east of Pirara and activities of some great concern were underway,” Transport Minister Robeson Benn told a press briefing yesterday. Both the serial number and the striping of the aircraft had been changed,…..

Story and comments:   http://www.stabroeknews.com

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