Monday, March 02, 2015

Recycling Plant Out Of Action Since Plane Crash: Gates Learjet 35A, N17UF, Diplomat Aviation Ltd., fatal accident occurred November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas

A recycling plant in Freeport, Grand Bahama has been out of operation since November 9 when a Learjet carrying Dr. Myles Munroe and eight others to a leadership conference crashed into its facility, destroying its generator and causing damages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Located adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard, City Services Limited used to employ between 15 to 25 people but has laid off eight people since the accident, the company’s Executive Vice President Pete Hughes told this newspaper yesterday.

The matter adds another dimension to the tragedy, which saw the loss of nine lives and now involves two separate legal disputes. This comes after the revelation that the pilots’ actions were the primary cause of the accident.

It has been “extremely difficult” raising the funds needed to repair or replace the equipment that has been destroyed, Mr. Hughes said, adding that the remains of the jet are still “balled up” in the company’s facility, waiting to be removed.

Diplomat Aviation, the company under which the Learjet was registered, is currently involved in a legal battle over an insurance pay out.

The recycling company - whose damaged equipment was not insured - has therefore been unable to obtain the money needed to restart its business, The Tribune was told.

“We have lost our generator power plant and our grinder,” Mr. Hughes said. “We hope to get back up in operation in a few weeks. With no insurance, we’ve had to put all the money up out of our own pockets. It’s been extremely difficult raising funds to repair and replace money and in these economic times it’s difficult to do that.”

The official report into the crash by the Civil Aviation Department said the management of the company placed the value of damage at over $1m.

Mr. Hughes, however, said the final figure is from $750,000 to $800,000.

He said the damage inflicted on the company’s equipment resulted from the jet’s crash and the actions of officers from the nearby fire department who responded to the incident.

“Our electrical components and high voltage equipment sustained damage,” he said, “and to be fair and honest, a lot of the damage came from the airport fire department. When they arrived on the scene, the officer told them to spray foam everything before going in, so a combination of the jet and the foaming caused the damage.”

Mr. Hughes said the company has spoken to an attorney representing Diplomat Aviation who noted that attempts are being made to sort out its insurance issues.

As for the remains of the jet, he expressed an eagerness to have the debris removed but is weary over what could be the cost of doing so.

“We still have the jet in the yard and we’ve been explicitly told that we can’t destroy it because it could be relevant to insurance issues,” he said. “Eventually we have to turn it over to the family. I’ve spent enough money on this effort but we need to remove the plane from our facilities. It’s still balled up there in the same exact spot.”

A lack of communication between the company and families of the crash victims has been one disappointing aspect of the matter, Mr Hughes said. In summing up the incident he said: “It’s a tragedy for everyone involved but we have to continue.”

Last week The Tribune revealed that the estate of the only American on board the plane, Diego Desantiago, filed a lawsuit against Diplomat Aviation.

It was also revealed by this newspaper in December that lawyers representing Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd, the company under which the Learjet was registered, were embroiled in a court battle with a US-based insurance company over the pay out from a $10m liability policy.

The plaintiff, XL Specialty Insurance Company, has insisted that it is under no obligation to honor the policy because it expired on November 5, 2014, four days before the crash, and was not renewed.

Story and photo:

NTSB Identification: ERA15RA047
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas
Aircraft: GATES LEARJET CORP. 35A, registration: N17UF
Injuries: 9 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 9, 2014, about 1652 eastern standard time, a Gates Learjet Corp 35A, N17UF, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd., was destroyed when it impacted a crane and terrain during approach to Grand Bahama International Airport (MYGF), Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas. The airline transport pilot, copilot, and seven passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN), Nassau, Bahamas, about 1600 and was operating under Bahamian flight regulations at the time of the accident.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit
Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation 
P.O. Box AP-59244 
Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas 
1 (242) 376-1617 
1 (242) 377-6060 FAX 

This report is for informational purposes, and only contains information released by the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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