Interview With Montserrat's Governor Adrian Davis On FlyMontserrat's Recent Mishaps

Following the crash of FlyMontserrat's flight 107 on October 7th, in which 3 person lost there lives, the airline once again suffered another near tragedy when one of their aircrafts veered off the runway at the John Osborne Airport on Montserrat on Tuesday October, 16.

AdrianD flymontserrat

AdrianD flymontserrat

Following the crash of FlyMontserrat's flight 107 on October 7th, in which 3 person lost there lives, the airline once again suffered another near tragedy when one of their aircrafts veered off the runway at the John Osborne Airport on Montserrat on Tuesday October, 16.

MNI Alive requested an interview with the Governor of Montserrat, His Excellency, Adrian Davis to ask him some questions regarding some outstanding issues surrounding the continued operations, then the eventual grounding of FlyMontserrat.

See below the responses to a series of questions that were sent through to Governor Adrian Davis by MNI Alive's Editor-in-Chief.

MNI Alive: Following the crash of FlyMontserrat in Antigua that killed 3 persons and left another British national Michael Hudson injured, why was FlyMontserrat not immediately grounded from flying by the authorities on Montserrat, pending a further safety investigation of all its aircrafts?

Governor Davis: As with any accident it is quite right that a full and proper investigation be conducted to find the factual cause. If at any stage of that investigation the team makes findings that require immediate action then they will be acted upon. This is the process for any aircraft accident throughout the world.

MNI Alive: Fly Montserrat has had a series of mishaps besides the two most recent. One plane came to rest after landing on the banks next to the runway of the John Osborne Airport. Did you know for instance that on the 28th October, 2011, a similar incident took place where an engine failed on take-off from Antigua's VC Bird Airport with air traffic control closing the airport for a while to allow the pilot, Paula Girling, to turn around and land. Are you aware of these repeated mishaps by FlyMontserrat and how concerning are they to you?

Governor Davis: I am aware of the previous incident concerning an engine failure after take off from Antigua following which, as you note, the aircraft landed safely and the other incident to which you refer. They were both fully investigated and a report into the landing incident was published by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB). The report is available on the web site www.aaib.gov.uk Recommendations from the report which primarily related to operations and procedures at John Osborne airport are being implemented.

MNI Alive: In light of the mishaps outlined, what procedures did you as the person responsible for the safety of Montserratians request from the airline, so as to ensure the airline's safety was never compromised for the traveling public?

Governor Davis: Air Safety and Support International (ASSI) advise Governors throughout the OTs on safety issues. I am in regular contact with the head of ASSI which provides expert advice on air safety matters. Airlines and airports are the subject of continuous oversight to ensure they meet international standards for aviation safety. If at any time an airline does not meet these standards then action would be taken which may include restricting or removing its operating certificate.

MNI Alive: Speaking of the recent mishaps that have occurred with FlyMontserrat, one would assume that a full and thorough investigation into all these various instances of safety lapses were fully investigated. Where are these reports for public consumption? Why have they not been made public? What did these reports uncover as it relates to the safety of FlyMontserrat?

Governor Davis: As mentioned in my answer to Q2 above, the report is available on the AAIB web site and the recommendations suggested by the AAIB are being put into action.

MNI Alive: Fly Montserrat again had a mishap having to veer off the runway at John Osborne Airport on the 16/10/12. It took the ECCA to announce a ban on FlyMontserrat and not the transport authorities on Montserrat. Why did it have to come to this for a ban on flying to be imposed on FlyMontserrat?

Governor Davis: As with any accident it is quite right that a full and proper investigation be conducted to find the factual cause and AAIB investigators attended following that incident. If at any stage the investigation team makes findings that require immediate action then they will be acted upon. As I said before, this is the process for any aircraft accident throughout the world.

MNI Alive: Fly Montserrat was banned from flying into any ECCAA country. So can you thus clarify then, if Fly Montserrat can still travel to countries that are not ECCA regulated?

Governor Davis: Aviation safety in Montserrat is regulated by ASSI. However, the direct answer to your question is that FlyMontserrat can indeed fly to countries outside OECS airspace regulated by ECCAA.

MNI Alive: Do you know Governor Davis, if FlyMontserrat has a designated safety officer? If so, who is this person?

Governor Davis: Each airline or airport will have a designated individual responsible for the safety of its operations but this person is appointed by the company itself.

MNI Alive: Will there be any penalties after the investigations are concluded if Fly Montserrat is found to have been operating unsafely?

Governor Davis: If, as a result of the investigation, there is evidence of inappropriate behaviour then this will be acted upon. But we must wait for the investigation to be completed.

MNI Alive: Governor, Flight 107 crashed in Antigua on the 07/10 killing 3 persons. You immediately put a statement out offering your condolences. Why Governor has the Premier of Montserrat not to date issued a public statement?

Governor Davis: This is a question for the Government of Montserrat please address it to them.

MNI Alive: Do you consider it important that governments in such difficult times and especially with the 50th anniversary coming up, should seek to allay people's fears and concerns?

Governor Davis: Yes. In this context, ASSI is conducting a detailed audit of FlyMontserrat. As the airline has already made clear in public statements, the safety of its passengers is its highest priority.

MNI Alive: We understand that GoM through MDC owns shares in FlyMontserrat. Is this part of the reason why the government did not immediately demand they be grounded from flying?

Governor Davis: This is a question for the Government of Montserrat please address it to them.

MNI Alive: Governor, as you know Fly Montserrat was heavily subsidized by GoM. MNI Alive is being reliably informed, and I will like you to kindly clarify the following alleged circumstances regarding FlyMontserrat:

a) FlyMontserrat has been negligent in paying its taxes to GoM.
b) There are outstanding issues with FlyMontserrat pertaining to Company taxes & Withholding taxes
c) Our very own Premier Meade stated once that one of his legacies must be to get Montserratians to pay their taxes owed. What is being done about FlyMontserrat and the alleged monies owed by them? Is there any merit to these allegations?

Governor Davis: This is a question for the Government of Montserrat please address it to them.

MNI Alive: Word reaching MNI Alive is that the pilots of FlyMontserrat were insured up to a certain point only. I asked the manager of FlyMontserrat about this and he said that all insurance has limitations. Were you aware of the pilot's insurance that was in place with Fly Montserrat?

Governor Davis: No.

MNI Alive: Governor Davis, I am inclined to wonder, has the British Government dropped the ball on due diligence because the owner of FlyMontserrat is British?

Governor Davis: No.

END

Image Credit To MNI Alive

Editor-in-Chief's Note: MNI Alive initially requested a telephone interview with Governor Davis, towards which he indicated a written interview would be his preferred format. We find it necessary to highlight this, as clearly, there are some answers to some questions above that would have required immediate follow up questions. We decided however to publish all questions that were submitted to Governor Davis.