Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Guyana mulls expanding airspace coverage following another illegal aircraft, airstrip discovery

Guyana plans to expand its airspace coverage in the wake of the latest discovery of an illegal airstrip and an illegally-landed plane bearing a Brazilian registration number.

“The Government is extremely concerned.  We are concerned that that these aircraft are utilising our large gaps in the security coverage in the hinterland areas, but we are looking carefully to see how we can have a proper coverage of those areas,” Minister of State, Joseph Harmon was quoted as saying in a government statement.

The Beechcraft King Air plane bears registration number PR-IMG. Though the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) registration code, PR, is Brazilian; criminals, especially cocaine traffickers, usually paint fake registration numbers on planes.

Police sources said nothing illegal has been so far found in the plane that landed on a recently rehabilitated illegal airstrip on the outskirts of Santa Fe,  North Rupununi. Interior Divisional Commander, Ravindradat Budhram said that the 5,400-foot long, 45-foot wide airstrip appeared to have undergone recent repairs. This strip had been discovered and destroyed by the GDF only a few years ago.

Furthermore, it is located approximately five miles from another illegal airstrip, which was discovered last week by a GDF patrol that was on a reconnaissance mission at the time.

According the Commander Budhram, having received information from an unnamed source that the airstrip was being used, investigating ranks visited the site and were leaving the area when they observed an aircraft circling some distance away. The aircraft landed while the ranks were making their way back to the airstrip. They reported that they saw some persons running into the bush.

Commander Budhram said that following the discovery of the plane an extensive search was mounted by a Joint Services team for the men, who had been observed fleeing.  That search continues.

The Minister of State called on Guyanese to play their part and to ensure that illegal activities, regardless of the location in which they take place, are reported to the relevant authorities. “Guyanese are a part of the country’s national security apparatus. We would like to ask them to report any activity they may consider illegal. 

It is illegal for any aircraft to land or be in Guyana unless they have the permission of the Government and the GCAA. While we have large expanses of land in the Rupununi that can be used for airstrips, it is illegal to have these airstrips. We should see ourselves playing an important part in our country,” Minister Harmon said.

He said government recognises that over a period of years, there are those who have taken advantage of the lack of adequate resources to properly monitor those areas. He added that the administration is taking this matter very seriously and is making every effort to better equip the security forces and strengthen their capacity to secure Guyana’s territory.

Government has since announced that an inter-agency team on Monday conducted an initial assessment of the twin-engine plane that sources describe as “very posh”. This initial assessment is an effort to gather evidence that will assist in the investigation into the circumstances, which led to the aircraft being abandoned on an illegal airstrip,”government said.

The Interior Divisional Police Commander  was quoted as saying that during the search of the aircraft, several pieces of communication equipment, including cellular phones, flashlights, a quantity of dried ration, medical supplies and an identification card were discovered.

The Divisional Commander noted that a search of the area unearthed three abandoned camps, in which canned food and other items were found.  Additionally, 16 10-gallon containers, which are suspected to have contained aviation fuel, were also discovered.

The inter-agency team that is probing the occurrence is made up of representatives of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Criminal Investigations Department (CID), the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The discovery of this airstrip and aircraft follows the discovery of another illegal airstrip in Yurupukari, Region Nine in September 2015. Investigations later revealed that the plane had originated in Colombia.

Original article can be found here ➤

The Beechcraft King Air aircraft has been confirmed as having authentic Brazilian registration and is operated by a company believed to be involved in the gold industry.

Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Colonel Egbert Field said information, including the registration number-PR IMG-obtained from the Brazilian Civil Aviation Authority matches those on the plane.

The Brazilian Authority said the twin-engine plane is operated by Riwa SA Incorporated Investments and Participants.

A spokeswoman for the Brazilian bank, Bradesco, told Demerara Waves Online News that the bank does not own the plane but it is registered in the name of that financial institution should the debtor fail to repay the loan. ”  The aircraft does not belong to Bradesco. 

It is important to clarify that the airplane It was given as guarantee of a credit operation. 

According to Brazilian rules, the operation is called – in a free translation – fiduciary alienation.

In this case the aircraft remains as property of the owner and it is only transferred to the bank in case the credit is not paid and the bank starts a repossession operation,” the spokeswoman said.

Field said no trace of narcotic was found on the plane that was found Sunday on an illegal airstrip at Marakanto, North Rupununi. 

Sources said earth-moving equipment recently levelled a 5,400 feet long area that was used as the airstrip and then that equipment was taken away by a truck.

The Beechcraft was up to Tuesday still undergoing repairs and other checks. Demerara Waves Online News was told that the plane would most likely be flown to the city on Wednesday.

Original article can be found here ➤

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