Author: Jeevan A. Robinson | Date: 16 May 2015
Governor Davis Stated: In response to your further coverage on the tragic Fly Montserrat accident it may be useful to reinforce my previous statements and the information I provided..
You continue to call for the aircraft operated by Fly Montserrat to have a safety modification fitted. This has already happened..
MNI Alive's Comment: Mr. Davis, the article you refer to discusses only the events leading up to the fatal crash of VP-MON. This aircraft was not modified. We have never called for an update to the others. The details are about VP-MON.
Governor Davis Stated: You ask for confirmation that only experienced pilots are used by Fly Montserrat. I can confirm that no pilot would be allowed to fly any aircraft unless they were suitably qualified and experienced. International standards which apply to all airlines including Fly Montserrat mean pilots will have passed stringent flying, technical and medical examinations and have the necessary experience and skills to undertake the flight.
MNI Alive's Comment: Again, the article was clearly about events leading to the crash. The pilot in the accident had just 710 hours flying experience. The TSB determined pilot inexperience was the cause of the 1984 crash. The pilot that was able to recover from Fly Montserrat's 2010 mid-air failure had 3,000 hours experience. Obviously a connection, I'm sure you will agree. However, you require pilots to have only 500 hours total flying time with only 100 of those hours on "similar" aircraft. This is your requirement as the "competent authority". In your opinion, and given the 710 hours of the pilot in the fatal crash, is this suitably qualified?
Governor Davis Stated: You question my statement on the incident reports filed by air traffic controllers. All the reports filed have been rechecked. I can re-confirm that over the three years before the accident only two reports were made that related to engine problems on Fly Montserrat aircraft. We shall be contacting the air traffic control unit directly to investigate this alleged discrepancy as we actively encourage incident reporting as one of the key methods to raise safety standards.
MNI Alive's Comment: We look forward to an independent investigation to find what happened to these reports. However, since there still is no report on the 2010 mid-air engine failure, it is difficult to reconcile with your statement above "we actively encourage".
Governor Davis Stated: As stated the reports from the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) that are publicly available on its website are the final reports into the two Fly Montserrat excursions. There will be no further investigation or publication from the AAIB.
MNI Alive's Comment: Again, please, it is very clear; our article "Senseless Airline Crash" was about the 2012 crash and events leading up to the crash. We have never called for other reports other than the 2010 mid-air failure and the MOR.
Governor Davis Stated: Under international law the full accident investigation and subsequent report is the duty of the Eastern Caribbean CAA (ECCAA) based in Antigua. As such ECCAA will be investigating under the legal framework to which they operate rather than Montserrat law.
MNI Alive's Comment: ECCAA stated the report is complete. We understand that the AAIB was initially invited to participate, hence the AAIB interim reports. When did this participation end?
Governor Davis Stated: I restate categorically that this report has not been released to me whether in draft or final form or made publicly available. No other party or organisation, including myself, has any control over when ECCAA will publish the final accident report.
MNI Alive's Comment: If this is so and since ECCAA stated the report was finished by October 7, 2013, why hasn't the AAIB been able to have this report released? If ECCAA is bound by international law in this regard, why haven't British authorities sought legal remedies for the release of this report?
Govern Davis Stated: The provision in the accident regulations relevant to Montserrat for the Governor to withhold an inspector’s report to which you refer is only a temporary measure to offer persons mentioned in a report time to make a right to reply or where the Governor may wish to serve a notice on an involved party. It is not intended to allow reports to be withheld in the long term. However, for the reasons stated above, this provision is not relevant in this particular case as the accident occurred in Antigua.
MNI Alive's Comment: Now we are getting somewhere. In section 12 of the Act to which you refer, Notice of Inspector’s Report and Representations Thereon, a person has a right to respond to an Inspector's report. You can extend the period for the response. However after you have received a response from the person named in the report, you can make changes to the inspector's report, "as you see fit", so that it does not " adversely affect the reputation of any person." This is not a temporary measure.
Now as far as jurisdiction (as you state both the 2010 and 2012 engine failures occurred in Antigua), Section 5 of the Montserrat Act, "Duty to Furnish Information Relating to Accidents and Incidents", persons are required to provide the Governor with information of incidents and accidents "occurring in or over the Territory or occurring elsewhere to an aircraft registered in an Overseas Territory." This seems to ensure the Montserrat Act could be used for incidents in Antigua and therefore, this provision is relevant to both Fly Montserrat issues. If so, the power to alter to ensure it does not "adversely affect the reputation of any person" could be used for the Antigua incident and accident. Would you not agree?
Additionally, the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2007 which states in provisions of the order may be entirely suspended at your will.
"146. The Governor may exempt from any of the provisions of this Order (other than articles 35, 36, 123, 135, 136, 137, 138, and 147) or any regulations made thereunder, any aircraft or persons or classes of aircraft or persons, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit."
Mandatory Reporting requirements are in Section 139, and therefore, the Governor can exempt, "as he thinks fit" a company or person from the need to report incidents. Is this not suppression of vital information the public should know?
Would you not agree this power should be a concern to all Montserratians?
Governor Davis Stated: I reiterate that I and the independent regulators of ASSI are committed to ensuring the highest possible levels of safety. We will not allow anything to stand in the way of, or jeopardise, this commitment.
MNI Alive's Comment: We will present a final article today, in our investigative series on the 2012 crash, to show how Governor Davis has been supportive of Fly Montserrat and its operations