Saturday, January 7, 2017

Charles Kirkconnell International Airport reopens for small aircraft

Following the accident Thursday on the Cayman Brac runway, in which one of the fire trucks overturned during a routine speed test, authorities say that the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport reopened for the smaller Cayman Airways Limited aircraft Thursday evening, though the jet services has not yet resumed. Meanwhile, one of the two officers injured in the incident, which happened on January 5th, remains in hospital in stable condition, while the other officer has been treated and released.

Both officers were transported by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s helicopter to Grand Cayman to the Health Service Authority (HSA) Thursday afternoon, according Government Information Services.

The fire truck involved in the crash was removed from the airport runway after the accident analyst completed his on-site assessment, enabling normal airport operations to resume for all smaller CAL aircrafts Thursday evening.

Senior management with the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS), Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) and other stakeholders are in the process of identifying an interim strategy that will support the resumption of jet services at the earliest opportunity.

It is a requirement that a fire truck be on standby when the jets land. The other CIFS truck on Cayman Brac belongs to the domestic branch of the fire service and therefore remains on call for fires elsewhere on the island.

The GIS release said that full investigations are being conducted by the RCIPS as well as an independent accident analyst. In addition, the CIFS is arranging for the manufacturer of the Osh Kosh T-3000 truck to send one of their experts to assess the vehicle, which was purchased directly from them in 2006.

The authorities stated that mandatory speed testing of the fire trucks that support airport operations is conducted monthly by the fire service in accordance with regulatory requirements that must be complied with by all rescue and fire fighting service (RFFS) providers.

“Under the RFFS regulations, systems and procedures must be in place to ensure the best possible response time in the case of an emergency. The operational objective of the RFFS procedure is to achieve a response time not exceeding two minutes to any point on the runway. ‘Response time’ is defined as the time between when the call is initially received and the time when the first responding vehicles arrive.

“Speeds between 65 to 69 miles per hour are attained during speed tests as well as in response to an actual aerodrome emergency. These speeds comply with those allowed under the RFFS regulations,” the release said.

The authorities further explained that fire officers are required to hold a Group 4 driver’s licence and must undergo specialist training to qualify to drive a fire truck. “Driver skill and expertise is augmented by technology, including integrated on-board safety systems which alert the driver before excessive speeds are attained.”

The release said, “In the 12 years since the last airport based fire truck accident occurred on the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport in January 2005, an average of 144 performance tests for speed have been conducted at that location and a similar number have been executed in Cayman Brac without incident. In addition to the monthly performance checks, the vehicles also undergo daily inspections as part of shift handover.”

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined pending the completion of the ongoing investigations, however GIS will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.


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