UK Investigators Lead FlyMontserrat Probe
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
FlyMontserrat's flight 5M 2109
Investigators from the United Kingdom Air Accident Investigation Branch arrived on Montserrat Tuesday morning to lead investigations into the cause of the mishap that caused an aircraft carrying seven people to veer off the runway.
The six passengers and the pilot were unhurt as FlyMontserrat's flight 5M 2109 from Antigua landed in the grass at the John Osborne Airport around 9:40.
"Once this investigation has established the probable cause(s) of the incident, I will make public their preliminary findings. A full report, which will also be made public, will follow some time after that," said Montserrat Governor Adrian Davis.
Hours after the incident FlyMontserrat was barred from servicing states which the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority has oversight for, until it meets certain undisclosed requirements stipulated by the Antigua-based agency.
Premier Reuben Meade said the airline is essentially grounded now that it cannot complete regularly scheduled flights to Nevis and Antigua, which it serves daily.
In a statement, FlyMontserrat said the aircraft landed normally and decelerated along the runway then rolled onto the grass.
"The pilot thought that he felt a minor vibration and as a precaution, he let the aircraft roll gently onto the grass, where the passengers disembarked," the company explained in the statement.
Airport officials said it was too early to give a report on what caused the incident.
"We weren't slowing down," said passenger Shaun Andres a United States national. "...As the end of the runway approached it started to get a little hairy on board."
Andres said the aircraft stopped about 10 metres from the end of the runway.
The airport reopened about five hours after the mishap as investigators looked into the incident.
Authorities on Montserrat were yesterday trying to come up with an appropriate response to calm fears of travelling to the island by air.
Director of Information and Communications for the Montserrat Cabinet Secretariat Nerissa Golden acknowledged that people will have safety concerns, but said that matter must be dealt with by the relevant oversight agency.
"We do recognise that people may have some concerns about it and those are things that we are working on. As it relates to the airline that is really up to the UK aviation authority to make any decision about them, " she said.
Golden said she could not speak to the issue of the impact this could have on travel pending a statement from the tourism board and the Government.
FlyMontserrat started regular scheduled flights in December 2009 servicing Antigua and the Emerald Isle.
On October 7, one of its aircraft crashed at the V C Bird International Airport on Antigua killing three of the four people on board.
The preliminary report by the ECCAA said significant quantities of water were found in the fuel system feeding the right-hand engine.