Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2015 Contents A13
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A CA A
As an international probe begins into
the runway incursion at the JFK airport
in New York, director general of T&T s
Civil Aviation Authority, Ramesh Lutch-
medial is fearful that the investigation
could be prejudiced.
In an interview, Lutchmedial said too
many people were speculating about the
incursion involving Caribbean Airlines
526 which nearly crashed into Jetblue
1295, headed for Austin, Texas, around
10:30 pm on Saturday.
"I want people to stop speculating
about the incursion and allow the inves-
tigation to take its course. I never knew
that we suddenly have so many aviation
experts in Trinidad," Lutchmedial lament-
ed. He added, "In these matters we must
wait for the facts and refrain from spec-
ulating because it tends to prejudice the
Lutchmedial said the audio of the JFK
Tower Frequency Recording has been
obtained and the investigation may take
about three weeks to be completed.
"It will be transcribed and analysed
to determine exactly what has taken
place," he added. Asked whether CAL
could face penalties if it was found that
an infraction has been committed, Lutch-
medial said it will be unprofessional for
him to comment on this while the inves-
tigation is ongoing.
He also denied that the pilots were
suspended, saying, "they have both been
taken off active flying duties until the
investigation is complete."
Lutchmedial also said that runway
incursions were not uncommon. Yester-
day, a team from the TTCAA led by
Inspector Capt George Cants Roach, who
has 40 years experience as a commercial
pilot and is a veteran accident investigator,
went to the JFK airport to investigate
the incursion. Lutchmedial said repre-
sentatives of Caribbean Airlines, as well
as flight operations specialists, trained
in aircraft accident investigations, were
present at the meeting in New York. This
is the first time that Caribbean Airlines
has been involved in a runway incursion.
He also said the pilots will not be giving
any interviews with the media while the
investigations are continuing.
Meanwhile, an official of the Interna-
tional Air Transport Association con-
firmed that IATA was not part of the
investigating team. Assistant Manager
of Corporate Communications Kalliopi
Lazari said "IATA is the trade association
for the world s airlines and supports
many areas of aviation activity and helps
formulate industry policy on critical avi-
ation issues." However she could not
answer any questions on the ongoing
investigation saying they were "outside
the scope of IATA s activities as IATA is
neither an investigatory body nor a safety
The US Federal Aviation Administra-
tion is also involved in the investigation.
The US Federal Aviation Authority reported an increase in
"near-misses" at the country's airports between 2008 and 2012.
The FAA's formal term for a near-miss is a runway incursion,
which it defines as "any occurrence at an aerodrome involving
the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the
protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-
off of aircraft."
"In FY 2012, 583 towered airports reported a total of 1,150
runway incursions, which is an increase from the 954 runway in-
cursions in FY 2011," the FAA 2011-2012 Runway Safety Annual
Runway incursions are becoming more frequent, and are now
more common than frequent flyers would like to think. Incur-
sions usually occur through controller error, pilot error, or vehicle
One industry news site, the Aviation Herald, tracks significant
incidents online http://bit.ly/1CwlhTh. Dramatic video of a run-
way incursion in Barcelona last year, was caught on camera, and
went viral after it was posted to YouTube (http://bit.ly/Vw5kx5).
The UK Civil Aviation Authority "has identified runway incur-
sions and runway excursions as significant issues to UK avia-
tion," through the analysis of worldwide data.
Although related data from Caribbean operators were not im-
mediately available, the US and UK reports helps to put into con-
text a January 17 near-miss involving two commercial airliners in
New York's John F Kennedy International Airport. The two
planes---Caribbean Airlines BW526 and JetBlue B61295---almost
crashed into each other around 10.30 pm.
It is unclear whether the pilots or the airlines will face any
penalties after the recent runway incursion, which involved a
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) Boeing 737-800 and a JetBlue Airbus
A320-200. The two medium-range twinjet narrow-body airliners
came close to possible collision as one was returning from
Guyana's Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the other departing
for Austin, Texas, according to a statement from the US Federal
The departing JetBlue Airbus 320 had received control tower
clearance when it attempted to takeoff but returned to the gate
after the mishap, JetBlue said in a statement. There were no se-
rious injuries reported.
T&T Civil Aviation Authority officials were to meet with the
FAA Air Traffic Control personnel in New York on January 20.
"Caribbean Airlines Limited is fully co-operating with the in-
vestigators. Both pilots involved in the alleged incident have
been taken off flying duties pending the outcome of the investi-
gation," said Civil Aviation Authority director-general, Ramesh
Following any incursion, the FAA conducts an investigation to
determine who is at fault and why the incursion happened. The
FAA may pursue a re-examination or even license revocation
against the pilot involved.
But in this case, the airline has said it is cooperating, and the
incursion did not result in an accident, so the FAA may not pur-
sue a civil penalty action or suspension. In such cases, the pilot
could receive a warning and may only be required to complete
It is not CAL's first major incident involving its BW523. The
Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) investigated a July 30,
2011 aircraft touchdown incident at the Cheddi Jagan airport
that caused irreparable damage to the Boeing 737--800 aircraft
and injured several passengers. The final GCAA report, released
in 2013, found that human error was largely responsible.
An October 24 release from the airline said, "CAL is commit-
ted to working with our flight crew to ensure they meet the re-
quired regulatory standards. The Captain of flight BW523
remains employed by CAL as a first officer. The First Officer of
the flight left employment at CAL in 2012. All regulatory require-
ments vis-à-vis the crew were met following the event."
w Am 7 6 w y w
4805 27, 977 A ( w
A ) , C y . ,
w v v w B 747 , 58 , m
m w ' A w C A ' B 526 B '
B6 295 . w CA w y . SOURCE: AVIATION HERALD
FAA report: Near misses
on increase across USA
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