Local civil aviation authorities were on Friday investigating an incident involving a Fly Jamaica Boeing 757-200 aircraft, which overshot the runway at Guyana’s main international airport earlier in the day injuring several people officials said.
Airline spokesman Carl Bowen said that the plane with 120 passengers and eight crew members was on its way to Toronto, Canada when the crew reported problems with the hydraulic system, forcing them to return to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport where it made an emergency landing, eating up nearly 10,000 feet of runway tarmac as its broken hydraulic system affected its normal and emergency braking systems.
The plane ended up being stuck in mud and sand at the very end of the runway, its right engine hanging off the main body and its right wing clearly damaged.
Minister of Transport David Patterson said the plane had been in the air for about 43 minutes when the crew noticed the operational anomaly and decided to head back to base.
Emergency crews raced to the scene and prepared for the arrival of the aircraft as it turned back towards Guyana. Passengers were evacuated safely using mostly emergency chutes. About six were people were taken to state hospitals for emergency treatment, related mostly to back injuries “and we are making alternative arrangements to fly out the passengers. Luckily there were no serious injuries,” Bowen said.
A company statement noted that “we can confirm that Fly Jamaica flight OJ256 bound for Toronto has returned to Georgetown with a technical problem and has suffered an accident on landing. At this time, we believe that all 118 passengers and eight crew members are safe. We are providing local assistance and will release further information as soon as it is available.”
In July 2011, a Boeing 737-800 aircraft belonging to Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines crashed at the same airport after the crew hand landed too far down the runway and ran out of braking space, injuring several people. The runway back then was 7,400 but is currently being extended to 10,000.
Fly Jamaica is majority owned by the Reece family from Guyana with Captain Ronald Reece as its chairman. It has been in operation for five years and is one of the few black-owned airlines licensed to fly to the United States. It operates to Guyana, Jamaica, Canada and the United States using a B-767 and a B-757 aircraft, completely owned by the company. It also operates a domestic service in Guyana’s interior through parent company, Wings Aviation as has been the case for more than 30 years.