Fly Montserrat new incident at JAO Airport

As its aircraft rolls off the end of the runway, over the bank after landing…

Aircraft with wingtip showing – resting against fence just down the bank from the runway

…at about 4.20 p.m. Monday, September 23, 2019, at the John A. Osborne airport, on a rainy afternoon, Fly Montserrat encountered its fourth major aviation incident, when as the Governor’s office an hour later, confirmed, “a FlyMontserrat Islander ran off the runway at the John A Osborne Airport today.”

The aircraft which reportedly had been ‘on hold’ for some time before attempting to land, after landing seemingly encountered difficulty and did not stop until running off the runway. That, according to a questionable release by Montserrat airways Ltd. (MAL) which owns the FlyMontserrat, Managing Director, Captain Nigel Harris said, “The aircraft, on a flight from Antigua with 6 passengers carried out a normal approach and landing on arrival, at about 4.30 p.m. As the aircraft approached the far end of Runway 10, the Pilot turned, but due to the wet runway surface, the aircraft vacated the runway at a very slow speed, estimated at 1-2 mph.”

The aircraft fortunately as it avoided “any (serious) injuries as early reports indicate, coming to a stop, rested against a fence as shown in the photo here at the drop off at top of the deep ghaut at the end of the Runway.

See damaged left tail wing.

The Governor Andrew Pearce has responsibility for the airport and such matters, also confirmed in the brief note, “all six passengers and the pilot are unharmed. The airport is closed until further notice while the incident is investigated and the plane removed.”

The Governor and his Office express their sympathy “to all those involved in yesterday’s incident at the John A. Osborne Airport in Montserrat. It was a huge relief that no one was injured.”

Meanwhile Premier Donaldson Romeo and Minister Paul Lewis, doing likewise both commented via a news report through ZJBNews expressing views of the injury-less incident, while “we await findings from an investigation by the appropriate authority” upon which they will be guided.

In a press meet with the Governor on Wednesday, he spoke officially to the public when, while admitting his responsibility for safety issues on the island, he did not see his role with the kind of overarching responsibility to make such decisions as grounding the airline, saying that their main task the following morning was to determine whether to open the airport, which they so decided.

He referenced Premier Romeo and Minister Paul Lewis who both said, that they must wait for the air accident investigation team from the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch, “who are coming out a bit later today to join the local air accident investigator – and we must not preempt…” their findings as to the cause of the ‘mishap’.

See aircraft tail resting against the fence.

The media launched a challenge to the Governor expressing surprise that FlyMontserrat was allowed to take to the air the next morning, citing the history of the ‘now fourth incident of issues in landing at the airport’, this being the most frightful of them. The press cited the release from the FlyMontserrat CEO captain Nigel Harris which in their estimation was already setting the tone for the investigators’ findings, blaming the wet runway.

As reported earlier they considered FlyMontserrat management disrespectful to the passengers and the public generally.

Indeed, the Manager of the John A Osborne Airport would confirm that  the regulators “Air Safety Support International (ASSI) has given instructions to close for traffic at the facility once the runway is wet.”

It was obvious the Governor did not get the issue as instead he stressed the concern about reopening the airport after it was temporarily closed since the evening before, disagreeing that any further action should have been taken until the report from the investigators, who arrived late Wednesday.

There have been enough ‘unofficial’ information from passengers on the ‘incident flight’ and otherwise, that the suggestion could not be further from the truth about the aircraft travelling at the incredible speed of 1-2 mph when it slid off the end of the runway.

One member of the press asked the Governor following a brief recall of previous incidents, what  prelude of the

FlyMontserrat’s last major reported incident was as we reported October 13, 2012, “another FlyMontserrat aircraft had run off the runway at John A. Osborne airport in Montserrat…This comes after its fatal crash in Antigua on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 with three dead and one critically injured….”

Questions follow suspicion that this aircraft might be the same that has been involved in similar incidents, like the Britten-Norman BN-2A-27 Islander in April 2011 and later.

Aircraft leaning against the fence wide angle.

In an emailed release sent to the media as early at 5.48 that morning, however, Nigel Harris of Montserrat Airways Ltd. who operates the small airline FlyMontserrat, sent the disturbing if not, acting wrongly, showing real lack of respect for passengers, and the traveling public the following:

“All FlyMontserrat’s flights are running normally from 9 a.m. this morning following an incident at Montserrat’s John A. Osborne Airport on Monday afternoon.

“The aircraft, on a flight from Antigua with 6 passengers, carried out a normal approach and landing on arrival, at about 4.30 p.m. As the aircraft approached the far end of Runway 10, the Pilot turned, but due to the wet runway surface, the aircraft vacated the runway at a very slow speed, estimated at 1-2mph.

“Thanks to the skill of the pilot, no-one was hurt in the incident, but the aircraft incurred some damage to its rear elevator, and to its wingtip during recovery.

“As is normal, the relevant authorities have been informed and investigations continue into all aspects of the flight.”

In at least one of the previous, but less impacting incidents, the airport was closed for some period certainly to the operations of FlyMontserrat while an official clearance given upon evidence of guaranteed safety by other than the obviously self-serving managing director of MAL.

Port manager accuses FlyMontserrat for falsifying evidence

But just as incredulous, if not downright dishonest is this claim which was strongly disputed by the Port Authority Management. “…no-one was hurt in the incident, but the aircraft incurred some damage to its rear elevator, and to its wing tip during recovery.”

ZJBNews reported a reaction from the port manager, which we confirmed. “Montserrat Port Authority is strongly refuting what he describes as an erroneous claim by FlyMontserrat in its press release, as above. ZJBNews said, Manager Joseph O’Garro categorically disproves the claim stating that prior to the involvement of the Port Authority staff – in the recovery effort the aircraft had already sustained the damage alluded to.

He says there is photographic evidence to support that the aircraft was damaged before the lifting of the aircraft by the port crane and support staff was not done in any way that would have damaged both the rear elevator and wingtip as mentioned in the FlyMontserrat press release.

O’Garro, who said he was on-site during the operation highlighted their involvement which was triggered by a call he received from the Commissioner of Police at 6 o’clock Monday evening, who advised that there was an urgent need to remove the aircraft because of a medevac that was scheduled for the following morning, Tuesday.

That foregoing information has been confirmed by airport officials, and the Governor who said, that also influenced the decision to open the airport the following morning.

The port manager went on to say that despite the pouring rain and the time of day he was able to mobilise staff to the scene along with the port crane.

Mr. O’Garro said that at no point was any damage done to the aircraft during this operation and in particular what was mentioned in the FlyMontserrat press release. He accused the airline for “falsifying evidence in its press release, that could influence the ongoing investigation… adding that they should instead be commended for their efforts, rather han have erroneous claims made against them.

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As its aircraft rolls off the end of the runway, over the bank after landing…

Aircraft with wingtip showing – resting against fence just down the bank from the runway

…at about 4.20 p.m. Monday, September 23, 2019, at the John A. Osborne airport, on a rainy afternoon, Fly Montserrat encountered its fourth major aviation incident, when as the Governor’s office an hour later, confirmed, “a FlyMontserrat Islander ran off the runway at the John A Osborne Airport today.”

The aircraft which reportedly had been ‘on hold’ for some time before attempting to land, after landing seemingly encountered difficulty and did not stop until running off the runway. That, according to a questionable release by Montserrat airways Ltd. (MAL) which owns the FlyMontserrat, Managing Director, Captain Nigel Harris said, “The aircraft, on a flight from Antigua with 6 passengers carried out a normal approach and landing on arrival, at about 4.30 p.m. As the aircraft approached the far end of Runway 10, the Pilot turned, but due to the wet runway surface, the aircraft vacated the runway at a very slow speed, estimated at 1-2 mph.”

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The aircraft fortunately as it avoided “any (serious) injuries as early reports indicate, coming to a stop, rested against a fence as shown in the photo here at the drop off at top of the deep ghaut at the end of the Runway.

See damaged left tail wing.

The Governor Andrew Pearce has responsibility for the airport and such matters, also confirmed in the brief note, “all six passengers and the pilot are unharmed. The airport is closed until further notice while the incident is investigated and the plane removed.”

The Governor and his Office express their sympathy “to all those involved in yesterday’s incident at the John A. Osborne Airport in Montserrat. It was a huge relief that no one was injured.”

Meanwhile Premier Donaldson Romeo and Minister Paul Lewis, doing likewise both commented via a news report through ZJBNews expressing views of the injury-less incident, while “we await findings from an investigation by the appropriate authority” upon which they will be guided.

In a press meet with the Governor on Wednesday, he spoke officially to the public when, while admitting his responsibility for safety issues on the island, he did not see his role with the kind of overarching responsibility to make such decisions as grounding the airline, saying that their main task the following morning was to determine whether to open the airport, which they so decided.

He referenced Premier Romeo and Minister Paul Lewis who both said, that they must wait for the air accident investigation team from the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch, “who are coming out a bit later today to join the local air accident investigator – and we must not preempt…” their findings as to the cause of the ‘mishap’.

See aircraft tail resting against the fence.

The media launched a challenge to the Governor expressing surprise that FlyMontserrat was allowed to take to the air the next morning, citing the history of the ‘now fourth incident of issues in landing at the airport’, this being the most frightful of them. The press cited the release from the FlyMontserrat CEO captain Nigel Harris which in their estimation was already setting the tone for the investigators’ findings, blaming the wet runway.

As reported earlier they considered FlyMontserrat management disrespectful to the passengers and the public generally.

Indeed, the Manager of the John A Osborne Airport would confirm that  the regulators “Air Safety Support International (ASSI) has given instructions to close for traffic at the facility once the runway is wet.”

It was obvious the Governor did not get the issue as instead he stressed the concern about reopening the airport after it was temporarily closed since the evening before, disagreeing that any further action should have been taken until the report from the investigators, who arrived late Wednesday.

There have been enough ‘unofficial’ information from passengers on the ‘incident flight’ and otherwise, that the suggestion could not be further from the truth about the aircraft travelling at the incredible speed of 1-2 mph when it slid off the end of the runway.

One member of the press asked the Governor following a brief recall of previous incidents, what  prelude of the

FlyMontserrat’s last major reported incident was as we reported October 13, 2012, “another FlyMontserrat aircraft had run off the runway at John A. Osborne airport in Montserrat…This comes after its fatal crash in Antigua on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 with three dead and one critically injured….”

Questions follow suspicion that this aircraft might be the same that has been involved in similar incidents, like the Britten-Norman BN-2A-27 Islander in April 2011 and later.

Aircraft leaning against the fence wide angle.

In an emailed release sent to the media as early at 5.48 that morning, however, Nigel Harris of Montserrat Airways Ltd. who operates the small airline FlyMontserrat, sent the disturbing if not, acting wrongly, showing real lack of respect for passengers, and the traveling public the following:

“All FlyMontserrat’s flights are running normally from 9 a.m. this morning following an incident at Montserrat’s John A. Osborne Airport on Monday afternoon.

“The aircraft, on a flight from Antigua with 6 passengers, carried out a normal approach and landing on arrival, at about 4.30 p.m. As the aircraft approached the far end of Runway 10, the Pilot turned, but due to the wet runway surface, the aircraft vacated the runway at a very slow speed, estimated at 1-2mph.

“Thanks to the skill of the pilot, no-one was hurt in the incident, but the aircraft incurred some damage to its rear elevator, and to its wingtip during recovery.

“As is normal, the relevant authorities have been informed and investigations continue into all aspects of the flight.”

In at least one of the previous, but less impacting incidents, the airport was closed for some period certainly to the operations of FlyMontserrat while an official clearance given upon evidence of guaranteed safety by other than the obviously self-serving managing director of MAL.

Port manager accuses FlyMontserrat for falsifying evidence

But just as incredulous, if not downright dishonest is this claim which was strongly disputed by the Port Authority Management. “…no-one was hurt in the incident, but the aircraft incurred some damage to its rear elevator, and to its wing tip during recovery.”

ZJBNews reported a reaction from the port manager, which we confirmed. “Montserrat Port Authority is strongly refuting what he describes as an erroneous claim by FlyMontserrat in its press release, as above. ZJBNews said, Manager Joseph O’Garro categorically disproves the claim stating that prior to the involvement of the Port Authority staff – in the recovery effort the aircraft had already sustained the damage alluded to.

He says there is photographic evidence to support that the aircraft was damaged before the lifting of the aircraft by the port crane and support staff was not done in any way that would have damaged both the rear elevator and wingtip as mentioned in the FlyMontserrat press release.

O’Garro, who said he was on-site during the operation highlighted their involvement which was triggered by a call he received from the Commissioner of Police at 6 o’clock Monday evening, who advised that there was an urgent need to remove the aircraft because of a medevac that was scheduled for the following morning, Tuesday.

That foregoing information has been confirmed by airport officials, and the Governor who said, that also influenced the decision to open the airport the following morning.

The port manager went on to say that despite the pouring rain and the time of day he was able to mobilise staff to the scene along with the port crane.

Mr. O’Garro said that at no point was any damage done to the aircraft during this operation and in particular what was mentioned in the FlyMontserrat press release. He accused the airline for “falsifying evidence in its press release, that could influence the ongoing investigation… adding that they should instead be commended for their efforts, rather han have erroneous claims made against them.