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No GPS on CAL planes
Caribbean Airlines’ B767 trans-Atlantic route aircraft, which lack GPS systems, will be upgraded in the fourth quarter of this year, Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday. He was responding to an Opposition question in the Senate. He said it was not true the aircraft were unsuitable for the London trans-Atlantic route. He said they were safe.
Howai said the two aircraft were leased by CAL from the International Lease Finance Corporation and Lan Chile was the planes’ last operator. He said Devant Maharaj was the line minister under whom the lease was done and CAL’s chairman at the time was George Nicholas III. He said CAL engaged an international aviation data and statistics expert company, Ascend, to ascertain the suitability of wide-bodied aircraft from Boeing and Airbus for the long-haul route.
He said Ascend felt the Boeing 767-300er was the best aircraft for CAL to enter the Port-of-Spain-London route for several reasons, which he listed. PNM Senator Terrence Deyalsingh asked if those were the same aircraft which did not have GPS systems. Howai said it was true they did not have GPS systems. The Civil Aviation Authority had mandated that their systems be upgraded using the Pegasus Flight Management System which used GPS, he said, and that would be done in the fourth quarter of this year.
Deyalsingh asked if the planes were flying without GPS. Howai said the aircraft were indeed flying GPS-less, but had an alternative arrangement ensuring they remained in contact with air traffic controllers en route. Deyalsingh asked if that was approved by Civil Aviation or British Civil Aviation but Howai said he would need to get further clarification on that.
Deyalsingh then asked if Government was contemplating legal action against those involved in acquiring the “unsuitable” aircraft. Howai replied it was not true to say the aircraft were “unsuitable” and they were safe.
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