[Bahamas, Andros] Crash Hacker Pilot’s Licence Had Expired

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[Bahamas, Andros] Crash Hacker Pilot’s Licence Had Expired

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Aug 17, 2018

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2018/aug ... d-expired/

[Bahamas, Andros] Crash Hacker Pilot’s Licence Had Expired
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
RASHAD ROLLE Tribune Staff Reporter

AN unqualified pilot carrying four passengers in a plane that was not airworthy crashed off the Berry Islands in January, days before a fatal plane crash off South Andros that killed six people, according to a new report from the Air Accident Investigation Department.

All on board the plane survived the crash but the incident is an example of the aviation industry’s "hacker" problem.

SkyBahamas CEO Randy Butler, in an interview with The Tribune, said the problem has gotten no better since January, despite government officials’ pledge of unprecedented efforts to counter the longstanding issue.

Mr Butler said the hackers "are back and they are back stronger than ever".

He said while the presence of inspectors at key sites like the General Aviation area on Coral Harbour Road has went from "none to some" since January, there remains "staffing issues".

"There are only so much inspection officers up there," he said. "If they had police at the gate where they are supposed to be or security there, that would assist. If they enforced the airport ID rule so no one who doesn’t have the requisite credentials could get past the control area, that would help as well."

Mr Butler said hackers know how to beat "the system" because inspectors are easily identifiable and not always present. When inspectors are around, hackers often fly off, not lingering in wait of passengers, he said.

"After the (fatal crash in January) you had (inspectors) go out there, stopping people, asking for private licenses, medical certificates or what have you. They would notice pilots who were making too many flights per day, per week or per month and they did nothing. They have to go further and actually detain planes and they aren’t doing that."

Civil aviation officials could not be reached to respond to Mr Butler before press time last night.

Meanwhile, the recently released accident report described the pilot as a 49-year-old man who regularly scheduled commercial flights between Andros and Freeport.

The aircraft registration certificate of the pilot’s Piper Aztec plane -- which crashed on January 12 -- expired nearly two years before the crash. He did not have a valid Bahamian issued pilot licence, having been issued only a private pilot licence on November 13, 2008 which itself expired in 2011. His medical certificate expired in June 2016.

The report said: "The Accident Investigation Department understands that while it is the pilot’s responsibility to ensure they are in possession of the required valid documents for themselves, as well as the equipment they are operating, prior to acting as a required crew member, the regulatory authority also has a responsibility to conduct regular surveillance and impromptu inspections of those documents and aircraft to ensure they are in compliance with regulations.

"The investigation into this accident found that the operator of this aircraft was not in possession of the required medical certificate issued by the USA or the Bahamas, which in turn invalidated the privileges that could be exercised by the use of the private pilot certificate. The investigation also found that the registration certificate for the aircraft had expired, which also invalidated the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft. Both certificates are required by regulations prior to operating the aircraft and acting as a required flight crew member."

It’s not clear whether legal action has been taken against the pilot.

According to the report, the pilot never made maintenance records for his plane available to investigators. In a telephone interview, he told investigators he experienced a right engine failure that caused a "significant loss of altitude".

"As the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude on the left engine alone, he decided to divert and attempt a landing at nearby Great Harbour Cay airport," the report said.

"However, with the continued loss in altitude the pilot stated he opted to execute a controlled landing in an area of mangroves approximately two miles SE of the Great Harbour Cay Airport to avoid crashing into trees that were between his position and the runway at Great Harbour Cay.

"It was reported that the pilot was the only occupant to receive injuries (minor) and the aircraft received damages as a result (extent unknown). All occupants were able to walk to the mainland of Great Harbour Cay where they were assisted by locals."

The AAID called for the regulatory authority to wage a broad campaign to alert the public on the "dangers of travelling with individuals or companies to act as a commercial operator that has not been properly certified by the regulatory authorities."

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