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Small Aircraft In For More Rigorous Inspection (North Eleuthera Airport)
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Posted by:Aug 5th 2007, 04:35:03 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBy KRYSTEL ROLLE, Guardian Staff Reporter

Operations at the North Eleuthera Airport came to a standstill yesterday after the second plane crash in The Bahamas in three days blocked the runway, preventing aircraft from landing or taking off.

The American pilot, Keith Graham, of Orlando, Florida narrowly escaped death Thursday morning after his small Piper 412 aircraft registration N918SD malfunctioned, said Patrick Rolle, manager of Flight Standards at Civil Aviation.

The door of the plane flew open and Graham, who was reportedly unable to control the aircraft, was forced to crash land, it was reported.

The aircraft ended up at the end of the runway.

The airport was up and running again by 2:05 p.m., said officials.

Passengers scheduled to leave from the North Eleuthera airport were forced to travel to Governor's Harbour for flight services yesterday. One traveler told The Guardian that she was asked to go to another airport when she arrived at the airport in N. Eleuthera, shortly after the incident.

The plane crash-landed shortly after takeoff around 11 a.m., Rolle reported. He did not know how many passengers were on board the plane as he had not received the report up to press time yesterday.

This crash comes just one day after the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation revealed their plans to crack down on small aircraft operators and just three days after a Piper Aztec twin-engine Cessna crash-landed near Compass Point in New Providence.

In light of recent air traffic events, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation advised the public of their intentions to heighten surveillance activity by civil aviation authorities on all small aircraft operators.

The Civil Aviation Department usually carries out required operations inspections of aircraft operators a minimum of five times per month and sometimes up to 11 times.

"With immediate effect, authorities have decided to step up these activities. These inspections help Flight Standards officials to evaluate the structural and mechanical integrity of all aircraft in operation, and the department maintains the authority to ground any craft failing to meet required standards," a release from the Ministry of Aviation said.

Thursday's crash was the fifth in less than four months.

Pilot Conrad Symonette crash-landed the Piper 23 Aztec in a bushy area just minutes after takeoff on Tuesday afternoon. He was carrying British tourists Mark and Michael Risser. All of the passengers survived tr crash.

In June a Golden Wings Charter plane crashed at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA). The Bahamian pilot, who was the only person on board, was unharmed.

Two separate crashes in April left two men dead, after a single-engine turbo registered to Happy Skies Inc. in Florida crashed 20 miles north of Nassau near Big Whale Cay in the Berry Islands.

Asked what needed to be done to prevent such crashes, Chief Supt. Hulan Hanna, who was on the scene of Tuesday's crash, explained why that question was so difficult to answer.

"Aircraft by their very nature can experience difficulty even after the most thorough examination and after proper servicing, and the rest of it. We can only say to persons who operate these companies and pilots themselves that they should be professionally and expertly trained. Take the necessary precautions," he advised. "The persons responsible for policing the industry will have to determine what kind of specific guidelines must be followed."

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