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CAL flight makes emergency landing

Published: 
Friday, April 29, 2011

A Caribbean Airlines (CAL) aircraft on a scheduled flight from Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to Piarco International Airport on Tuesday was forced to turn back after the plane ingested a bird in its left engine. In a statement yesterday, CAL said that the incident occurred two minutes after takeoff at an altitude of 3,000 feet. The bird strike disabled the left engine of the aircraft, which resulted in an emergency landing in Guyana, 11 minutes after being airborne. All emergency equipment and personnel at the airport, including Aerodrome Rescue and Firefighting, were prepared for the arrival of the CAL aircraft. Preliminary inspection conducted by CAL senior engineer, Bryan Latchman, revealed that several fan blades were damaged.

As a result of the incident, the aircraft was grounded. Latchman said that CAL has since dispatched a maintenance support team from Trinidad to assist in the repairs of the engine. Up to press time, the team of engineers was working feverishly to repair the badly damaged engine of CAL’s jetliner, the repair of which is expected to be costly. However, Latchman is optimistic that the aircraft would be serviceable shortly. A total of 158 persons were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, six of whom were crew members. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft, registration 9Y-ANU, was commanded by Captain Richard Law and assisted by first officer Michael Abraham.

Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn, visited the Guyana airport to have a firsthand look at the extent of the damage to the aircraft. Benn said that, over the last two years, serious attention was placed on livestock, primarily poultry farms located in proximity of CJIA. He also stated that dumping of entrails from livestock in the vicinity of the airport constitutes a hazard to flight safety because it attracts vultures. These vultures have an average weight of two kilogrammes and soar to altitudes in excess of 5,000 in the airport area. Large jetliners in the takeoff profile usually will be accelerating with speed upwards of 160 knots. Striking a two-kilogramme bird at that speed could be detrimental to flight safety.
Benn stated that his ministry will be working closely with all stakeholders in ensuring that aircraft safety is paramount after the CAL incident.

CAL’s response
Responding to the incident via text message yesterday, Laura Asbjornsen, corporate communications manager at Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL), said that flight BW 662 encountered what is termed a “bird strike.” “Damage was sustained to the number one engine and an emergency landing was made in Georgetown, Guyana. Some damage was done to the blades of the engine. “All passengers were safe and our maintenance and engineering teams have assured us that they will get the aircraft up and running as soon as possible. Asbjornsen said all passengers were “rescheduled as best as they could have.”  She said that CAL adjusted its schedules to accommodate the flight delays.