The government needs to equip the GDF with the tools necessary for aviation search and rescue – Stabroek News

Dear Editor,

The President needs to get the general aviation sector reviewed from top to bottom.

My sympathy to the family, loved ones and friends of the pilots who died.

I shudder at the thought of flying and whether it is still safe within Guyana, as well as the cost of insurance for the aircraft operators which must be passed onto the public.

I say that general aviation is in crisis because we had 3 airplane crashes with fatalities in relation to 3 operators, as well as another mishap and incident all within a few months. This isn’t normal in a country with a very small aviation sector. What is happening to our aviation sector? These problems can be one or a combination of factors, including training, morale, poor oversight, pilot error, mechanical faults, weather, air traffic, poor loading, aging aircraft, etc.

I know the most glaring thing that emerged from these crashes and all the others in recent years, is the fact that the GDF has very limited search and rescue capabilities, and arrives at the scene too late to save lives and extract any survivors, if there are any. Those brave GDF special forces ranks risking their lives to get to the crash site are limited due to the lack of a large helicopter support to rappel and conduct any extraction of critically injured persons at a crash scene. The government is responsible for search and rescue and should immediately equip the GDF to perform these tasks. Do we know whether an earlier arrival with significant capabilities at crash scenes could have saved lives? It is taking too long to get the courageous ranks to a crash scene without the typical search and rescue tools.

I hope the government sees the need to protect the tens of thousands of us flying around the hinterland, if through no fault of our own we become plane crash victims. The government owes us a timely rescue with the best capabilities to improve our chances of survival. This is not the responsibility of a private company being paid to use their aircraft, or getting a contract or asking private companies to use their aircraft gratis.

This is 2017 and the government needs to take their search and rescue role and responsibility very seriously and act now.

Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Rodrigues

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