GCAA to introduce drug, alcohol testing for pilots, gets tough on dress code

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GCAA to introduce drug, alcohol testing for pilots, gets tough on dress code

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Oct 20, 2019

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Civil Aviation to introduce… Mandatory drug, alcohol testing for pilots – GCAA gets tough on poorly-dressed ones

Oct 20, 2019

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is getting tough on operators to up standards. The changes were happening for a while now but have been thrust more to the forefront following an accident involving a small aircraft on Thursday. The measures to come will include better dressed personnel and mandatory and periodical drugs and alcohol testings.

On Thursday, a Piper PA31 aircraft, registration 8R-HAI, captained by Bernard Singh, 48, went down shortly after takeoff from Aricheng, Region Seven. The aircraft was operated by Domestic Airways. The Air Traffic Services at Timehri using an emergency locator signal was able to pinpoint the area and a Search and Rescue Unit was activated and dispatched.

According to the GCAA, which regulates the country’s airspace, the search and rescue team comprised the army’s Special Forces and Air Navigation Services Personnel of the GCAA. A fixed [-wing] aircraft and a helicopter were dispatched with the search and rescue team. The team managed to rescue Captain Singh; he only suffered minor injuries. GCAA said he was able to walk with the search and rescue team to Aricheng airstrip.

However, while there was relief that a life was saved, there have been concerns. GCAA is upset at a number of things. One of them was the manner in which the pilot was dressed. He was in jeans and T-shirt. There were holes in the knee area of the jeans. It was unclear if the holes were caused by the accident. However, even if the holes were caused by the accident, it would not be acceptable for pilots to dress like that.

Over the weekend, Director-General of the GCAA, Lt. Colonel Egbert Field, disclosed that a number of things on the table will mandate operators to ensure everyone toes the line. In the case of Captain Singh, it was revealed that it was only in August that he was cleared to fly again. This was after an accident. He was also reportedly involved in another accident some time back. The aviation chief admitted that the pilot’s dress at the time of his rescue was a cause for concern. He was unable to say what the initial findings of the accident are.

Tomorrow, a GCAA team from the authority is expected to journey to Region Seven to the crash site to commence investigations. Questioned, the official said that the necessary tests were carried out, including drugs and alcohol testing. However, as of now, the current regulations do not allow for periodical testing for drugs and alcohol.

Field, who was heading Jamaica’s aviation authority also, disclosed that there had been moves to introduce mandatory testings but a number of laws have to be amended including secrecy laws regarding those tests. As of now, there is a continuous fine-tuning of the laws, the official disclosed.

The concerns for the aviation sector would come as Guyana readies for oil and gas. In recent months, there has been an increasing number of applications for helicopter services and new operations to Guyana. Domestic flights have been increasing also, with new areas opened and a number of new airfields upgraded. However, with that came the accidents and incidents.

GCAA has boasted that there have been improvements. According to the Director-General, the dress code has among one of peeves with operators. He vowed that the GCAA will not give grounds when it comes to adhering to regulations. There will be continuous fine-tuning to ensuring that operators and other personnel are fit and proper…to hold aviation documents, including licences, approvals and other certificates.

"A few of these areas will have to include mental, physical conditions of the persons and compliance history and of course, your track records. We are working on them,” he assured.

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