Plane crash on take-off...
[Fenix Airways] Pilot’s fate hangs on telephone records
April 30, 2014
Culpability has become a major concern in the investigation involving the Fenix Airways Inc. pilot who was reportedly using his cell phone during the take-off phase of the Kato-bound flight which crashed at the Ogle International Airport in early January.
For the aviation company, culpability will be the basis for which it will take legal action if it is found that it was as a result of the pilot’s actions or whether it was a contributing factor.
The overturned Cessna 206 following the crash
“We would have to first establish culpability before we could proceed on what could be done.” This, he indicated, would involve legal or some other form of action.
Deolall went on to say that discussions surrounding the cause of the accident are ongoing with investigators, but he was unable to say whether the investigation appeared anywhere closer to its end.
The company manager explained that so far the airline has lost $40M on the plane alone, since the mangled aircraft is damaged beyond repair. This, he said, does not include the loss of revenue and the impact it has caused in terms of clientele.
In the meantime, GCAA investigators are yet to receive telephone records from the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T). GCAA General Secretary, Zulficar Mohamed told Kaieteur News yesterday that with some legal obstructions lingering, the police might have to obtain a court order to effect the release of the pilot’s telephone records.
Kaieteur News has learnt that legally, the telephone company is not obligated to release the records. Attorney Glenn Hanoman, who offered legal advice to Fenix Airways, had mentioned to reporters that the matter is a stumbling block, since GT&T was advised that in civil matters it is not mandatory that they provide the records due to confidentiality policies.
Mohamed explained yesterday that the police have written to the telephone company, but the next step might well be a legal order.
It was however related to this publication that Fenix Airways was contemplating legal action against the pilot following statements by passengers who were on board the crashed Cessna, and who accused him of using his cell phone during the plane’s take-off. Passengers had given statements to investigators and this was later clarified when one passenger, Zoreena Ali, confirmed to Kaieteur News that she had in fact given statements to that effect.
Ali recounted that she was seated in the passenger seat next to the pilot, Raul Seecharan, when the accident occurred, and was in clear view of what he was doing. Unconfirmed reports were that other passengers gave similar accounts.
However, the report prompted authorities to seek telephone records to prove that the pilot was indeed using his phone. While telecommunication technicians say that the company would be unable to say what activity was being performed at the time, it would be able to say whether the phone was in use during the period of the accident.
Four persons were injured as a result of the single-engine aircraft veering off the Ogle runway and flipping a few times before landing upside-down. A pregnant 23-year-old Shemika Monroe and the pilot had to overnight at city hospitals as a result of the accident, while the other two passengers were treated and released.
Kaieteur News learnt that the pilot’s licence has been returned, but was unable to confirm the information. When asked, Mohamed told the newspaper that he was unsure about the matter, but explained that such action is not strange since after some time, the licence could be returned to the pilot, despite there being a probe.
However, some aviation stakeholders, particularly aircraft operators, expressed discontent with the licence being returned, especially since evidence existed that the pilot could have been at fault.