The head of Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority Wednesday blamed Mexican regulators for not acting fast enough on safety breaches information supplied to them from Guyana about the Boeing 737-200, which crashed in Cuba earlier this month saying warnings were contained in information supplied to the Mexicans.
Authority Chairman Capt. Lawrence London, told this publication that once Guyanese regulators began zeroing on alleged infractions of regulations including clear overloading of the aircraft flying between Guyana and Cuba, the Mexicans should have increased monitoring of the operators of the plane immediately.
The plane was registered in Mexico but crashed after takeoff from the Havana Airport during an internal flight killing 112 people. The plane was the same one which had done most of the Georgetown-Havana flights and the exact one from which Guyanese authorities had taken unprecedented steps of yanking the flight data recorder from the crew to check aircraft performance. Checks had revealed that both engines were under performing.
Guyana last year banned charter operator Easy Sky, which at the time was operating the plane with tail number XA-UHZ, from flying to Guyana after ramp inspectors had found numerous cases of overloading of the plane which had mostly ferried suitcase traders between Guyana and Cuba.
“We sent all the information to the Mexicans but they did not get back to us on time and we took the action to stop the plane from flying to Guyana. We could not have gone straight to the International Civil Aviation Organization because there is a procedure. We had to deal with the country of registration and that was Mexico. Once they did not get back to us on time, we said there shall be no more of this and stopped them from operating here,” London said.
He said the crass overloading of that plane has now forced the Guyanese authority to move to retrain and certify ground handling crew to ensure they comply with regulations and ramp inspections for departing and incoming flights have been stepped up. The certification requirement is a first for Guyana in the wake of the crash.
Inspectors had found plastic-wrapped bags and parcels stashed even in aircraft washrooms and had noticed that bags had also been placed under the feet of passengers in the cabin. In other cases, bags and parcels were placed between passenger seats. In one instance last year, Aviation Director Egbert Field complained that inspectors had ordered ground handlers to take off a full cartload of bags because the plane was way too overloaded to take off safely.
“I sometimes think we could have done more to avert that crash and save many lives but the Mexicans did not get back to us and did not act fast enough,” London said.