GDF approved to spend $484M on purchase of 1970s aircraft

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bimjim
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GDF approved to spend $484M on purchase of 1970s aircraft

Unread post by bimjim » Sun May 13, 2018

https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2018 ... -aircraft/

GDF approved to spend $484M [US$2.3 million] on purchase of 1970s aircraft
…Harmon defends decision, says they are like Rolls Royce
May 13, 2018

The Government has secured Parliamentary approval for an additional $484M [US$2.3 million] representing final payment towards the purchase of four fixed-wing aircraft – two Islanders and two Skyvans – for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).

Faced with numerous questions about the purchase from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Friday, in the National Assembly, Minister of State Joseph Harmon disclosed that the Islanders were first manufactured in 1976 while Skyvans were first manufactured in 1977. Both models are no longer being manufactured.

The Minister disclosed that the Skyvans, which were being used for troop transport and parachuting are being brought from Belgium through Liberty Aviation, an American company that operates from North Carolina. The Islanders, according to Harmon, are being purchased from Brazil who utilized the planes for passenger and cargo services.

“The SkyVans and Islanders are aircraft; people who have them don’t sell them. It’s like having a Rolls-Royce,” Harmon stated to justify the purchase of the aircraft.

PPP Parliamentarian, Clement Rohee, pressed Harmon on the availability of spare parts for the aircraft given that they are out of production.

Harmon pointed out that while they are not being produced; there are many countries around the world that operate these aircraft and therefore spares are not an issue; training is not an issue.

“They are sought after aircraft because of the capability. They allow for short take off and landing. They allow for the use of the type of airstrips, which we have in Guyana; 90% of which are short type of airstrips. Therefore, these two types of aircraft are specifically suited for those circumstances,” Harmon explained.

The Minister stated that there are seven fully trained and certified engineers for the aircraft. Some of the senior engineers have about 25 years of service while the junior one has 12 years. Training, according to Harmon, was done by the original aircraft and engine manufacturers.

He explained that while the aircraft will be assigned to the GDF, other joint services agencies will have access specifically on matters of aerial surveillance. According to Harmon, the decision for the purchase was made at the level of the Defence Board

“They are being purchased with a national plan in mind and not just the GDF so most of our aerial surveillance are done jointly by the police and the army as well as other elements of the state, but certainly these aircraft were purchased with a national character,” Harmon pointed out.

He assured that the aircraft will not be used for commercial purposes and will not compete with private service providers.

An initial payment of $213M was made by the GDF to the companies. Some $73M was budgeted for the military’s transportation-related expenditure. Harmon explained that to fill the gap to the initial payment, monies were diverted from capital projects, which saw government deciding to scale back on buildings and water supply projects.

To cover the full purchase, Government moved to Parliament to secure approval for supplemental expenditure.

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Re: GDF approved to spend $484M on purchase of 1970s aircraf

Unread post by islandflyer » Sun May 20, 2018

I have to say, I am 50/50 on this one.

I can see the justification of a proven rugged short field performer like the Islander and Skyvan, being used for transport to the Interior on unimproved airstrips. These things can take a beating and keep going. Also you have a wealth of experience in keeping these birds in the sky - no fancy-pants gizmos, just basic sheet metal and speed tape. Plus, the article doesn't speak to how many aircraft will be acquired for the funds allotted. Maybe they are getting at least 2 of each, plus spares.

However...

There is a practical reality about operating a 40+ year old plane, especially in a rugged salt-laden environment where maintenance costs and down time are climbing almost hourly. And in a non-commercial environment where the regulatory oversight of the GCAA is absent, how much preventative maintenance can one expect? And what of the attitude of the staff & pilots? Will they regard this as the powers that be not caring about their wellbeing, and looking for the oldest hunk of junk to send them out in?

This one confuses me.

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Re: GDF approved to spend $484M on purchase of 1970s aircraf

Unread post by bimjim » Sun May 20, 2018

There are many conditions which local operators - and the GDF - must address, the size and condition are only two of them. Local operators - and the GDF - try to serve short fields all around a vast country cut out of the jungle each with perhaps less than a hundred people living nearby. In a country with few roads and long distance, driving or walking are frequently not practical alternatives.

The more important demand is for bringing people to hospiotal, and it is unrealistic to expect someone who has been severely injured or is pregnant to walk for several days through a jungle to reach medical help.

The places which are able to afford regular air services are mines, but their demands are not just for moving people but also a stream of very heavy and awkward 55-gallon drums of oil, diesel and fuel, necessary for operating the mining camps there.

Unless and until the new offshore oil rigs start pumping cash into the economy, Guyana is still a poor country. They have no option but to do the best they can with what little they have. Improving runways for larger aircraft literally means starting from a cleared narrow bumpy mud strip - NOT a perfectly flat prepared gravel runway - with close-in jungle all around and working up to the more sophisticated conditions something like a Dash-8 would prefer. One might be do-able, perhaps, but there are scores - if not hundreds - of these strips scated across the country, and there simply is not the national budget for such an expense as upgrading them all.

Islanders and Skyvans are known quantities and have served the country well in the past. Many single-engined aircraft, like Cessna Caravans, are now used - but this is not open land where an engine failure is a simple matter of landing on a nearby road and waiting for help, it means a jungle crash and the very real possibility of the canopy closing over and NEVER being found - like so many others in the past.

For Islanders, the shortage of 100LL avgas can be fixed far more thriftily by swapping to diesel engines, which can run on JetA1 kerosene. This option would cost thousands, as opposed to millions for turbine engines.

On the Skyvan front, the GDF might consider doing what another airline operator is doing - buying up older time- or cycle-expired aircraft at scrap metal prices, flying them in, and parking them for parts (or "cannibalising").

Because of their past, Guyanese are extremely handy and skilful at making things work or figuring out viable alternatives.

Such alternatives may not always be 100% up to American standards - but I think perhaps "American standards" needs a fresh look these days too, since truth and facts seem to be in very scarce supply there recently, and in many cases the US seems to be happy with Third World conditions while criticising other countries of the world who have far higher requirements. In the rest of the world, not EVERY decision can be made with the sole consideration being money.

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