Sunday, December 28, 2014

Britten-Norman BN-2A-6 Islander, 8R-GHE, Air Services Limited: Fatal accident occurred December 28, 2014 in Guyana

On 28th December 2014, the BN2A-26 Islander aircraft, registration – 8R-GHE departed Mahdia Airstrip at 15:42hrs on a flight that was expected to arrive at Karisparu Airstrip at 16:00hrs. There were two persons on board the aircraft, the pilot and a third crew member/loader. The aircraft disappeared during this flight.

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) today said that a search operation for an Air Services Limited plane that went missing on December 28 over Region Eight jungle has ended without any sighting of the craft.

A statement from the GCAA follows:

Despite an intensive twenty one days of aerial and ground searches in mountainous and densely forested terrain in Region Eight for the ASL Britten Norman Islander, the aircraft and its occupants have still not been found.

8R-GHE disappeared on a routine shuttle operation Mahdia to Karisparu on 28th December 2014 with Captain Nicky Yakesh Persaud, 27 and cargo handler David Bisnauth, 51.

After the aircraft was reported overdue, five aircraft conducted reconnaissance over the Mahdia, Kaietuer, Karisparu and Taffy areas following the most probable track that the aircraft would have flown.

Three helicopters were deployed followed by an ASL Cessna Caravan and eleven (11) GDF Special Forces Officers on that day.

The Rescue Coordination Centre was established and supported by the Honorable Minister Benn, Minister of Public Works, Maj. Mike Charles, Captain G. Gouveia along with several agencies including, GDF, Guyana Police Force, GGMC, CDC, Ministry of Health, Guyana Forestry Commission, Air Services Ltd, CJIAC, Civil Aviation Department – Suriname, CGX and the GCAA.
Information gathering and planning was done from this centre and coordinated for execution by the sub centre established at Mahdia.

During the last 21 days, extensive searches were conducted by three (3)helicopters and two (2) fixed winged aircraft from a base established at Mahdia, to locations identified as high probability areas determined as a result of sightings and more than twenty interviews with miners, villagers and relatives.

Over two hundred and thirty (230) hours were flown by the helicopters and fixed winged aircraft over the Blackwater Creek basin, North Fork, Konawaruk River, Ebini, Eagle, Mowasi, Glendor mountains, Kurungiku mountain range including “Toucan Face” “Twin Towers” and Toucan Valley. The helicopters conducted multiple sorties over the Blackwater Creek and North Fork areas including locations where damaged trees and crows were observed.

Ground searches complemented the aerial searches after day three (3) and intensified thereafter with seven ground search parties totaling forty seven (47) persons from the Guyana Forestry Commission, St. Cuthbert’s Mission, villagers from Mahdia and Chenapau, twenty (20) Special Forces Officers, family members of Captain Persaud and volunteers.

Approximately twenty insertions and extractions of ground search parties were done at nine landing areas to trek along the treacherous and densely forested terrain. Areas where potential images captured by the Canadian Twin Otter with capability of picking up large metallic objects were also combed.

Later in the search, several attempts to pursue an additional lead from a camp owner were made by the Rescue Coordination Centre and the aircraft company, however, after over one week, the person failed to take officers to the location from which he said the aircraft was seen. Using this information, the GDF Special Forces Officers combed the mountainous area pinpointed, without success.

Over the last weekend another team including Captain Gouveia continued the search efforts, however, once again there was no sighting of the aircraft.

Over the past three weeks the search for the missing aircraft and its occupants engaged a varied and substantial number of resources, including, personnel, aircraft, specialized equipment among others and all leads have been exhausted without success.
As a result the Minister of Public Works in collaboration with the RCC has taken a decision to bring the operation to an end.

The Minister of Public Works and the GCAA empathize with the immediate family, relatives and friends of the missing persons, Captain Nicky Persaud and David Bisnauth in this time of distress.

http://www.stabroeknews.com

Captain Nicky Persaud


At least 30 members of Guyana’s Special Forces are Thursday expected to inserted into “an area of interest” as part of their more than one-week old search for a small plane that went missing over the country’s dense jungle and rugged terrain.

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said the platoon of Guyana Defence Force (GDF) soldiers that travelled to Mahdia on Wednesday would be inserted by helicopters at sunrise barring no inclement weather.

A number of areas of interest have been developed by a Canadian survey plane that is here on behalf of the Canadian oil exploration company, CGX Energy. The areas of interest have been collected from data that has been collected by the plane’s Passive Radiation Detector.

The twin-engine Britten Norman Islander, bearing registration number 8R-GHE, went missing shortly before midday on December 28 while on shuttle trip with construction materials from Mahdia to Karisparu in Region 8 – Potaro—Siparuni.

Aboard were Captain Nickey Persaud, 27, and Cargo Loader, 51-year old David Bisnauth.

The GCAA added that six villagers from Chenapau village joined the search party at Mahdia.

Over the past three days, Special Forces’ ranks, Guyana Forestry Commission officers and Line cutters have been extensively combing a large area between North Fork and Black Water rivers.

If the search proves futile, additional areas will be examined, said the aviation regulatory body that is part of the Rescue Coordination Centre. 

http://www.caribnewsdesk.com






January 05, 2015 

Opinion > Letters > Questions for aviation industry


Dear Editor,



I am not a pilot, not even remotely connected to the aviation industry in Guyana, however recent events have led me to question the quality of management and oversight provided to the industry by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority. Accidents are all too common and while focus by local media is on the search and rescue teams and their progress or success, I have a few harder questions I would like to pose to those in the GCAA and the aviation industry in general.


Given the nature of the Guiana Shield terrain, are our aircraft equipped with the best possible ELT’s and other systems?


Are our aircraft maintenance schedules and systems subject to oversight? 


Are spot checks carried out? 


Do we have to meet just ‘minimum” standards or do we exceed these? 


Are pilots pressured to accept economics as part of their safety calculations? 


Can pilots report employers who may be applying undue pressure to complete flights in potentially unsafe conditions?


Can pilots report poor maintenance procedures/systems to the GCAA? Have any reports ever been made? 


Are aircraft models used for ferrying cargo of fuel drums rated or designed to do so? Is shuttling fuel inherently unsafe?


Given the terrain and problems experienced past and present in finding downed aircraft, would investment by the GCAA in a high quality aerial photography drone with GPS matching ability be worthwhile?


Should all pilots be equipped with a satellite phone?


Could we mandate reflective strips/glow in the dark stripes/even mildly radioactive paint stripes on aircraft to help with location and recovery?


If any of the above suggestions seem ridiculous, please excuse them as being “out of the box” but keep in mind the thinking “inside the box” has been far from impressive.


I have consulted with current and former pilots in the formulation of the above questions and many have supported the effort to ask them and look forward to official responses.


Yours faithfully,

Robin Singh

Source:   http://www.stabroeknews.com


Canadian plane joins search for ASL aircraft


JANUARY 5, 2015 


While today’s search for the Britten Norman Islander that went missing shortly after takeoff last week Sunday yielded no results, hopes are high as a Canadian aircraft equipped with a magnetic reader joined the search.

“We have a Canadian-registered Twin Otter doing aerial surveys and they have specialized magnetic detection equipment on board,” Annette Arjoon-Martins  who is the General Manager of Air Services Limited, which owns the missing plane, told Stabroek News.

She explained that the plane was in Guyana undertaking works for oil exploration company CGX and its members were approached by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) asking for its services to aid in the search for Captain Nicolas Persaud, Cargo Handler David Bisnauth and the aircraft.

The company agreed to give a helping hand and today began assisting in the search.

“The equipment they are using will pick up magnetic stuff on the ground so that helps a great deal,” she said.

Both the GCAA and ASL extended their gratitude to CGX and the Canadian crew for their services.

Arjoon-Martins says that she remains optimistic that the crew will be found soon as the teams deployed on the ground are nearing the areas of interest. “The Special Forces and specialists who were on the ground yesterday and today are zoning in even tighter…we will continue tomorrow and I remain optimistic,” she posited.

A 26-member group was dispatched via helicopter yesterday into an area deemed to be of high interest, bordered by the North Fork and Blackwater rivers. The area was determined based on reports of sightings in an area above the highest peak, east of Deer Creek. This area is approximately 10 miles southwest of Mahdia.

The group, consisting of persons from the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Special Forces and line cutters from St Cuthbert’s Mission commenced their ground searches early this morning in hopes of making a discovery after days of unsuccessful searching.

According to the GCAA, standard three-man teams from the GDF and GFC mapped a route to thoroughly search for the aircraft and its occupants. GCAA further said that the teams had been equipped with modern communication equipment such as handheld radios, global positioning instruments, and satellite telephones which enabled them to remain in regular contact with the Rescue Coordination sub-centre in Mahdia.

Furthermore, aerial searches continued with two helicopters along with two fixed-wing aircraft. These searches were conducted not only in the area of high interest but also along the previously decided grids prepared by the Rescue Coordination Centre, Timehri Control Tower.

The search continues tomorrow morning.


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


Bad weather shortens search hours for missing ASL carrier 

Inclement weather remains an obstacle in the search for the Air Services Limited (ASL) Britten Norman Islander which went missing last week Sunday. 

Search efforts which are ongoing in the Mahdia, Region Eight territory had to be delayed until noon yesterday since bad weather curtailed the operations.

The Rescue Coordination Centre is yet to locate the missing aircraft which was carrying 27-year-old Nicky Persaud and 51-year-old cargo handler David Bisnauth.


The men were providing shuttle service between Mahdia and Karisparu in the Potaro-Siparuni region.


They were carrying construction equipment to Karisparu and had taken off from the mining community just after noon when contact was lost with the aircraft.


Today will be the ninth day since rescue efforts begun and still rescuers are no closer to locating the plane. Spirits are not too high on finding the ASL crew alive.


As recent as Friday, the rescue centre deployed a further three teams to commence ground search in the Mahdia area. They were previously conducting aerial searches.


The Rescue Coordination Centre is currently focusing on specific areas of ‘interest’. These are Black Water and North Fork. The centre had received at least nine reports of possible plane locations. None has however proved fruitful.


Rescue works are expected to continue today depending on the weather conditions.


http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com


JANUARY 4, 2015 

Bad weather put a damper on recovery efforts yesterday, causing rescuers to call off the search for the missing Air Services Limited (ASL) aircraft by mid-afternoon.


Members of the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) based at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri Control Tower are yet to find the Britten Norman Islander that went missing one week ago. The ASL aircraft was conducting shuttle flights between interior communities when contact was lost just after noon. The pilot was 27-year-old Nicky Persaud and cargo loader, 51-year-old David Bisnauth, was also onboard.


Hopes of finding the men alive are dwindling especially since the critical 72-hour period which is deemed pivotal for rescue efforts, expired some time ago. The RCC is determined however to continue its search efforts as long as resources permit.


The body has therefore deployed three more teams into the Mahdia Potaro-Siparuni area to join the search for the Britten Norman Islander and its precious cargo.


Providing an update the RCC said that 10 members from the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC); eight ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Special Forces and eight Line Cutters from the St. Cuthbert’s Mission were inserted by helicopter into an ‘area of high interest’ to commence ground searches bordered by the North Fork and Black Water rivers. Those two areas are along the flight path which the pilot would have taken when he left for Karisparu, -another Region Eight community – with the construction material which he was carrying at the time.


The RCC has noted however, that standard ‘three man’ teams – from GFC and GDF – have mapped a route to systematically comb the mountainous terrain in search of the twin engine aircraft and the ASL crew.


The teams are equipped with modern communication equipment inclusive of satellite telephones; handheld radios; global positioning instruments, and are in regular contact with the Rescue Coordination sub-Centre at Mahdia.


Simultaneously, aerial examination continued with two helicopters supported by two fixed wing aircraft, not only in the ‘area of high interest’ but along the pre-determined grids which were prepared by the RCC, Timehri Control Tower.


However, yesterday’s search had to be discontinued at 16:30 hours due to bad weather and will resume at first light today.


The RCC said that the area of high probability was based on reports of sightings in an area above the highest peak, east of Deer Creek, approximately 10 miles, southwest of Mahdia.   The RCC stated during a recent press conference that it is depending heavily on reports to carry out its operations.


Minister responsible for the Transport sector, Robeson Benn told the media that all reports are being investigated. This was reiterated by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)’s Director General Zulphicar Mohamed and Annette Arjoon-Martins, ASL Executive.


The RCC’s search has followed them into the New Year and still there has been no sign of the missing craft. It is hoped that rescuers have better luck getting work done on the ground.


http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com



January 4, 2015:  A 26-member group was dispatched via helicopter into an area deemed to be of high interest that is bordered by the North Fork and Blackwater rivers. The area was determined based on reports of sightings in an area above the highest peak, east of Deer Creek. This area is approximately 10 miles southwest of Mahdia.








Transport Minister, Robeson Benn leading a team of officials on a fact-finding mission in Mahdia to ascertain where the Air Services Limited (ASL) aircraft may have went down.


One of the helicopters in the search for the missing aircraft




Search for missing plane beefed up 


JANUARY 3, 2015

Three teams from were flown into Mahdia, Region 7 from Timehri by GDF Skyvan today to join the search for the Britten Norman Islander and the pilot and cargo handler who went missing shortly after takeoff on December 28, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said today.

Ten members from the Guyana Forestry Commission; eight ranks from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Special Forces and eight Line Cutters from the St. Cuthbert’s Mission were inserted by helicopter into an ‘area of high interest’ to commence ground searches bordered by the North Fork and Blackwater rivers, the GCAA said.

Standard ‘three man’ teams – from GFC and GDF – have drawn a route to systematically comb the mountainous terrain in search for the twin engine aircraft, pilot Nicky Persaud and Loader David Bisnauth, the GCAA said. The teams are outfitted with modern communication equipment inclusive of satellite telephones; handheld radios; global positioning instruments, and are in regular contact with the Rescue Coordination sub-Centre at Mahdia.

Simultaneously, aerial examination continued with two helicopters supported by two fixed wing aircraft, not only in the ‘area of high interest’ but along the pre-determined grids which were prepared by the RCC, Timehri Control Tower.

The search had to be discontinued at 16:30 hrs due to bad weather and will resume at first light tomorrow, the GCAA said.

The area of high probability was based on reports of sightings in an area above the highest peak, east of Deer Creek, approximately 10 miles, southwest of Mahdia.



Friday, 02 January 2015 


The search and rescue team looking for small plane that went missing almost one week ago has intensified its ground search in rough terrain and thick jungle, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said in a statement.

"Based on information received, the RCC identified further areas of interest in the Kurungiku Mountain, Black Water area and North Fork area. A party is currently on the ground conducting a search of the Black Water area after completing a similar exercise in the North Fork area. 

In addition, a more intense ground search effort will commence tomorrow (Saturday). Other specialist teams have been mobilized and will be transported to Mahdia and other areas of interest. The teams are drawn from personnel of the Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Air Services Ltd," the regulatory  agency added.

Minister of Transport, Robeson Benn and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s Director General, Mr. Zulficar Mohamed, and members of the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) travelled to the RCC’s sub-center in Mahdia yesterday, January 1, 2015 to assist in the Search and Rescue mission for the ASL’s aircraft which went missing on December 28, 2014. 

The aerial Search and Rescue operations based at Mahdia continued today; however, due to inclement weather and overcast conditions, the operations started late. 

Further, more than 150 square miles were covered in the Search and Rescue effort; and in excess of 60 hours of flight time were logged in the Search and Rescue mission for ASL’s Britten Norman Islander aircraft, bearing registration 8R-GE which went missing on Sunday 28th, December, 2014. 



Facebook group Guyanese Pilots has been speculating on the causes for the disappearance/crash of flight out of Madhia on Sunday and what can be done to prevent such accidents. 

The twin-engine Britten Norman Islander with 28-year-old pilot Captain Nicolas `Nicky’ Persaud and 51-year-old cargo handler David Bisnauth onboard vanished without a trace on Sunday two minutes after it left the Mahdia airstrip. The plane was on a routine trip from Mahdia to Karisparu, in what should have been a 15-minute flight. (SN)

Milo Willi posts a screenshot of the typical route needed to fly to the mining strip showing that it has to divert around mountains. “So it’s quite possible Milo Because of de bad weather, he was blown off course or became disorientated ,and flew into de mountain…” writes Beni Sankar.

“So many possibilities Beni..I suspect CFIT, Engine failure or a combination of both” replies Willi (CFIT stands for Controlled Flight into Terrain).

Shuttling and the safety issues were also raised given that four flights have crashed with the loss of 11 lives ferrying supplies to mine sites. Overloading and the proper strapping of fuel barrels was also discussed as following the crash in January the suggestion was the pilot and the loader may have survived if the supplies had not come crashing down on them when they landed. Shuttling is inherently dangerous as it requires a lot of short trips which means many takeoffs and landings which are always the most dangerous parts of any flight. However it is very lucrative to the pilots and the aircraft operators.

“Shuttle aircraft are always low, heavy, in the weather and around the mountains. Engines are always working hard. Pilots are always hot and stressed” writes Willi,” I almost hit a mountain with a TGA Aircraft shuttling between Aruwai and Kurupung. Pilots are so exposed.”

Nigel Lynch asks, “Question is what is the cost of an upgraded Locator for each aircraft and compare it to the cost of a human life. It can’t become relevant after the fact.”  And Oscar Ramsingh writes “I remember crewing a Sky Van moving a Tractor from Apoteri to Annai.The mission took several round trips.Fortunately the airplane was brand new.Go no go decisions was left to the crew.Qualified mechanics should be sent on some of these operations.Most pilots are not mechanics .Engine anomalies when they crop up become life or death decisions.”


Aviation officials have dispatched a search party to an area just outside Mahdia in the Potaro-Siparuni Region Eight area, following the disappearance of an Air Services Limited (ASL) aircraft which lost contact with authorities shortly after taking off for Karisparu, also in the Potaro-Siparuni region.

The Britten-Norman BN-2A-6 Islander (8R-GHE) said to be carrying the pilot Nicky Persaud, 27 and cargo-handler David Bisnauth 51, lost tower connection about 10 minutes after leaving the take off point. They were said to be carrying mining supplies.

According to a release from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) six aircraft were deployed in the search and rescue mission for the missing aircraft. The release said the “Timehri Air Traffic Control lost communication around noon with the Air Services Ltd Britten Norman Islander 8R-GHE that was operating between Mahdia and Karisparu.”

Captain Persaud and Bisnauth, 51, were onboard the twin-engine aircraft which took off from Mahdia at 11:42hours on a routine local cargo flight. The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at Karisparu at 12:00hours.

At 16:20hours, Timehri Air Traffic Control made contact with the aircraft operator to establish whether the aircraft landed before implementing a search and rescue operation. However, no information was received, the aviation authorities said, and the Air Traffic Control commenced the ‘alert phase’ and the Rescue Coordination Center at the Timehri Control Tower was activated.

It was stated that two Air Services Ltd. (ASL) Cessna 208 Caravan flying within the area were vectored to commence the search for the aircraft. A Piper Cherokee from Hinterland Aviation and an ASL Bell Helicopter also joined the search.

Additionally, an ASL Caravan departed for Mahdia at 16:16hours with a GDF Special Forces Unit to assist in the search and rescue operation.

The search continued until sunset and the two helicopters and Cessna Caravan are at Mahdia waiting to recommence the exercise at sunrise today.

Other aircraft from ASL will also depart early this morning to join the forces and take in the GCAA Coordinators and Investigation team. The GDF helicopter is also on standby.  A six hour and 40 minutes search time was logged by four fixed wing aircraft and the two helicopters that participated in the search.

ASL’s General Manager Annette Arjoon-Martins told Kaieteur News yesterday that the Company is vigorously pursuing search efforts along with other aviation bodies.
She said that ASL immediately dispatched company carriers in search of the missing plane. About half an hour later she said, the company’s helicopters were also dispatched, while the country’s military was placed on standby.

While it is still unclear what would have happened to the twin engine carrier and its occupants, officials have speculated that current weather conditions may not be the best suited for flying in that part of the Region.


Source:  http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com


After a more than six hour search for a missing plane, with two persons aboard, a search and rescue mission came up empty-handed and called off their operation at sunset Sunday until day-break Monday, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said in a statement. 

 The GCAA said the Britten-Norman BN-2A-6 Islander, bearing registration number 8R-GHE, went missing while on a flight between Mahdia and Karisparu in Region 8 (Potaro/Siparuni). Aboard the twin-engine aircraft were Pilot Nickey Persaud, 27, and cargo loader, 51-year old David Bisnauth.

The Authority said that six aircraft, including two helicopters, carried out a six hours, 40-minute search over the area but there was no sighting of the plane.

“The search continued until sunset and the two helicopters and one  Cessna Caravan are at Mahdia and will recommence search at sunrise tomorrow (December 28, 2014).

Other aircraft from ASL will depart early tomorrow (Monday) morning to join the search efforts and take in the GCAA Coordinators and Investigation team. The GDF helicopter is also on standby to join the search and rescue operation. To date, 6 hours and 40 minutes search time was logged by four  fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters,” said the GCAA.

According to the authority, the  Timehri Air Traffic Control lost communication around noon today, December 28 with the plane.

Facts are: The Britten-Norman BN-2A-6 Islander took off from Mahdia at 15:42 UTC (11:42 local time) on a routine local cargo flight and the last known position was Spot Tracker hit at 15:44 UTC (11:44 local time). The aircraft was estimated to arrive Karisparu at 16:00 UTC (12:00 local time).

At 16:20, Timehri Air Traffic Control made contact with the aircraft operator to establish whether the aircraft landed before implementing a search and rescue operation.

After no information was received, the Air Traffic Control commenced the ‘alert phase’ and the Rescue Coordination Center at the Timehri Control Tower was activated.

In the meantime, two Air Services Ltd. (ASL) Cessna 208 Caravan flying within the area were vectored to commence search for the aircraft. A Piper Cherokee from Hinterland Aviation also joined the search efforts. An ASL Bell Helicopter also departed Ogle Airport to join the search for the aircraft.

Additionally, an ASL Caravan departed for Mahdia at 16:16 local time with a GDF Special Forces Unit to assist in the search and rescue operation.


Source:  http://www.caribnewsdesk.com
Bad weather shortens search hours for missing ASL carrier

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Authorities in Guyana are searching for a small cargo plane that vanished with two people aboard while flying over remote jungles in the South American country.

Guyana's civil aviation department says the Britten-Norman Islander aircraft went missing on Sunday.

The two men on board — a pilot and the cargo plane's loader — both were identified as Guyanese.

They had been delivering fuel and other cargo for mining camps in southwestern Guyana.

Rescuers had yet to find any sign of a fire or wreckage.

Earlier this year, another small plane disappeared while bringing supplies to miners in the country's dense western jungles.

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