Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cheddi Jagan International Airport runway in excellent condition – says Aviation Director: Boeing 737-800, 9Y-PBM, Caribbean Airlines, Flight 523, Accident occurred July 30, 2011 in Georgetown, Guyana


The Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) is equipped with a runway that is in excellent condition, said Director of Aviation Safety Regulation, Paula McAdam. She expressed her conviction that “there is no fault that I can put on the runway at Timehri.”

She was at the time commenting on the Caribbean Airlines crash at CJIA last year which rendered one person an amputee when the aircraft went skidding off the runway.

McAdam is currently a part of a team that is working to finalize a report on the tragic incident which had raised several questions about the CJIA runway.

She related during an interview that a draft of the report has already been completed. There has also been a meeting with the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States (NTSB). According to McAdam, “they made some comments and we are still working to finalize the report.”

She said that the Timehri runway is considered a bit short but it is more than adequate for the aircraft type that crashed at CJIA. Moreover this is one of the areas that the local aviation team has been examining, the Aviation Director added.

On July 30, 2011, a CAL Boeing 737-800 aircraft crash landed at the local airport shortly after midnight. The aircraft, which overshot the runway, stopped short of a ravine, its nose cone segment breaking off.

The incident was described as “a miracle landing” as all 163 people aboard—including six crew members—survived.

A number of people were taken to hospital, and Guyana health authorities reported that three people had to be admitted for treatment. One passenger later had to have a leg amputated. Subsequent news reports from Guyana and in the Wall Street Journal alleged pilot error.

This view has been substantiated by McAdam who categorically noted that “that the airport is adequate to take this aircraft so there was nothing wrong with the runway…it is grooved, there was no standing water, it was well lit, it was well marked as it should be marked…it was even marked with reflective paint so there is no fault that I can put on the runway at Timehri,” she insisted.

A final report on the crash-landing is outstanding almost 18 months after the incident but there are reports that it is expected early next year. But according to McAdam the highly anticipated report would in fact require input from the oversight Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for CAL which is based in Trinidad.

“We are waiting for that but the investigation is going very well if I do say so myself…” This view was forthcoming even as she reflected on an American Airline accident in Jamaica which occurred about six months before the crash in Guyana.

A report on that incident is yet to be completed, McAdam said, adding that “until you actually get involved with writing an accident report of that magnitude it is only then that you can appreciate what you have to do.”


NTSB Identification: DCA11RA092
Scheduled 14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial operation of Caribbean Airlines
Accident occurred Saturday, July 30, 2011 in Georgetown, Guyana
Aircraft: BOEING 737, registration: 9Y-PBM
Injuries: 1 Serious,161 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On July 30, 2011, at 1:25 am local time (0525 UTC), a Boeing 737-800, Trinidad & Tobago registration 9Y-PBM, operated by Caribbean Airlines as flight 523, overran the runway upon landing at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Georgetown, Guyana. Of the 156 passengers and six crew on board, there was reportedly one serious and multiple minor injuries. Weather was reported as raining at the time of the accident. Preliminary details from local authorities indicate that the airplane fractured in two pieces as a result of the overrun. The flight was a scheduled passenger flight from Piarco International Airport, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

The accident is being investigated by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The NTSB has designated a U.S. Accredited Representative as the state of manufacture. All inquiries should be directed to the Guyana CAA at:

Civil Aviation Authority
Fairlie House Lot 96
Duke St


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