Guyana Chronicle:-THE authorities here are actively probing the unauthorised departure of two Cessna aircraft from the Eugene F Correia International Airport (EFCIA) at Ogle which occurred before daybreak Saturday.
Reports are that two Cessna 206 model aircraft bearing registration 8R-GMP and 8R-GTP left Ogle prior to sunrise (5:30 am) without the relevant air traffic clearances for departure. The pilots, who passed through the airport shortly after 04:00 hrs, also breached immigration and customs regulations in the process.
The two aircraft which are owned by Oxford Aviation, left for the Caribbean island of Grenada early Saturday.
They were flown by the pilot and owner of the company, Munidat Persaud aka “Raj “and another pilot whose name was given only as “Vladimir.” On their way to Grenada, the pilots flew through Trinidad’s airspace undetected and without permission.
Reports out of Trinidad suggest that the pilots skilfully flew under the radar of the authorities on the twin-island republic. As they approached Grenada, the men informed air traffic control on the Spice Island that they were inbound to that island from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The move was meant to deliberately throw the authorities there off-guard, since it would have indicated that they were flying from a northern direction rather than from these shores. According to reports from aviation sources, the pilots then island-hopped their way until the aircraft were detained farther north on the island of Anguilla.
At Ogle, the pilots presented their airport passes to security, boarded the planes and took off and aviation sources reported that the planes’ departure went undetected until a party in a court matter involving Oxford Aviation raised an alarm during the day on Saturday.
Minister within the Ministry of Public infrastructure, Annette Ferguson told the Guyana Chronicle that she was fully briefed on the incident by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). She confirmed that there is a High Court matter involving the aircraft which bars their owners from leaving Guyana.
That matter involves an incident which occurred at the Region Seven airstrip at Ekereku near the Venezuela border in which one of the two aircraft in question ran into another Cessna aircraft, registered as 8R-GHJ, a Cessna 172. The latter aircraft, which is owned by pilot Orlando Charles of Domestic Aviation, sustained structural damage during the incident and that matter has been in the courts for some time.
Airport spokesman Kit Nascimento told this publication Saturday that there had been no breach of security at the airport, as the men presented their security passes and were allowed to visit the planes.
“They told security that they were going to put something on board,” he noted. He said the men then proceeded to take off without filing flight plans or notifying anyone at customs, immigration or air traffic services.
Nascimento stressed that the airport management has no authority to stop an operator from departing the airport but rather, that responsibility rests with the GCAA. In addition, he said the airport was unaware of the court matter involving the company.
He added that the incident will be reviewed, but he stopped short of saying if it will see a rearrangement of aircraft pilots’ access to the airside at all times.
Guyana ‘s air traffic control services does not provide radar coverage, but rather handling based on radio communications with pilots, a form of air traffic control (ATC) known as procedural air traffic control. According to ATC sources, the pilots had planned their departure diligently, catering mainly for fuel stops along the trip.
At Ogle, the pilots usually request an ATC clearance to operate outside the airport’s boundaries from the tower at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at Timehri. To fly outside of Guyana, such requests are made days in advance and would require coordination between Guyana and the ATC agencies in the countries whose airspace the aircraft would transit.
Aviation sources reported that the operator is also indebted to several persons here and Saturday’s ultimate destination may have been the United States, where he operates a flight school.