Old planes could work way better than new ones once maintained - GCAA Director

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Old planes could work way better than new ones once maintained - GCAA Director

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Old planes could work way better than new ones once maintained - GCAA Director
Sep 06, 2021

Kaieteur News– After mechanical difficulties caused a Norman Britten Trislander owned by Roraima Airways to crash land earlier this month in the Eccles, East Bank Demerara, (EBD) backlands, many have opined that perhaps, the aircraft is too old and should be scrapped.

However, in a recent interview with Kaieteur News, the Director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Egbert Field, said that if properly maintained, old planes could work way better than newer ones.
Field explained that even though an aircraft might be manufactured in the 1980s, good maintenance and frequent replacement of old parts with new ones can extend the lifespan of the plane while adding that it can operate smoothly for years.

He noted too that if a complete overhaul of a plane is done and a section of the airframe or engine parts have to be replaced, it must be done with the manufacturer’s approval. Field continued that if the owner fails to comply with manufacturer’s guidance on how to remove and replace parts then he/she can be found in breach of aviation regulations.

Norman Britten Trislanders are three-engine piston-powered civilian aircraft that were manufactured in the 1970s and the early 1980s in Great Britain. Some of these Trislanders were also built in Romania but would normally be delivered to England for certification before sale.

It is unclear as to how long Roraima Airways owned the Trislander that crash-landed on Saturday, August 14, as well as how long it has been operating in Guyana.

Nevertheless, according to Field, aircraft operating in Guyana undergo strict inspections while adding that they are done in different phases.

“Inspections are done at scheduled time and they are done in phases”, Field said. “There is annual inspection, daily inspections, and inspections are also done before and after every flight”, he continued.

The GCAA director further explained that after a plane has completed 50 hours of flight time, the engineers would do an inspection of every part. If there is rust on a part, then it will have to be replaced.

“Even if there is a problem with a fuel pump, that too will have to be replaced with a brand new one,” Field added.

It is also routine, according to Field, that the pilot and his crew inspect every part of an aircraft before it goes on a flight.

With regard to the annual inspection, the GCAA director said this would be a complete overhaul of the aircraft where it would be grounded for a number of days to facilitate detailed inspections and the replacement of key parts.

Field noted that despite inspections and checks are done, mechanical difficulties can still occur during a flight but will be minimal once guidelines and maintenance rules are followed.

On Saturday, August 14, one such mechanical difficulty did occur while the Roraima Airways’ Trislander was returning from a trip to Imbamadai, Region Seven.

On board were three passengers, a man, a woman and a toddler, along with its pilot, Learie Barclay and co-pilot. Barclay had to make a split second decision and chose to guide the aircraft into a swamp located in the Eccles backlands close to Haags Bosch Dumpsite. Those on board received minor injuries but the decision Barclay made saved their lives.

Field told Kaieteur News that the Trislander’s engine had failed because of fuel starvation. What caused the fuel starvation is still being investigated.

Currently, stated Field, tests are still being conducted on the aircraft as the investigations continue. Once completed, a detailed report will be published revealing the cause of the fuel starvation.
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