No landing at John Osborne airport, the runway is wet

FlyMontserrat’s aircraft ran off the edge of the runway, stopped by the wire fence

It has turned out that there must be some confusion if not just collusion of one kind or another, that flights into Montserrat have had to be canceled or aborted, “because the runway is wet”, creating an uproar among people with some apprehension as the St. Patrick’s Day Festivities approach.

Back in October last year, ZJB Radio published the following, by which today, the questions that should be asked. “Were these protocols set out by ‘The Civil Aviation Act’ followed, which fall under the Governor of Montserrat.

The Governor has softened his position recently, although he still maintains to some degree that he has no responsibility in the decision process because he is not an expert, which he is not required to be when he has the ‘experts’ who manage and run the airport, with some exclusions of those he does listen to, other than ASSI of course who depends on his reports for actions.

 ZJB News in a report sets out: “that in any incident/accident, the local Air Accident investigation Manager on the ground would contact the Air Accident Investigation Branch in the United Kingdom to give an official initial update of the situation on the ground.

Following this initial report, the incident/Accident scene would be assessed and cordoned off to secure the site.

The local Air Accident Investigation Manager would then continue his investigation including taking photographs of the scene and any debris to formulate his evidence.

It is also expected that the Air Accident Investigation Manager will conduct interviews with the pilot and passengers, as well as eyewitness accounts of what happened Monday afternoon.

Following the presentation of this information to Air Accident Investigation Branch in the United Kindom, the organization will dispatch personnel to Montserrat to carry out further investigation.

And in some interesting development, the Manager of the John A Osborne Airport has confirmed to ZJB News that the regulators Air Safety Support International (ASSI) has given instructions to close for traffic at the facility once the runway is wet.”

However, if the Civil Aviation (Investigation of air accidents and incidents) Regulations 2007 are still in force in Montserrat, Section 5 reads as follows:

Duty to furnish information relating to accidents and incidents

This snippet from the video showing the aircraft landing half-way down the runway

“(1) Where an accident or a serious incident occurs in respect of which. by virtue of regulation 8(2)  below, the Governor is required to carry out, or to cause an  Inspector to carry out an investigation, the relevant person and, in the case of an accident or a serious incident occurring on or adjacent to and the relevant person (the commander of the aircraft at the time)  and, in the case of an accident or a serious incident occurring on or adjacent to an aerodrome,  the aerodrome authority shall forthwith give notice thereof to the Governor by the quickest means of communication available and in the case of an accident occurring in or over the Territory shall also notify forthwith the local police authorities of the accident and of the place where it occurred.

No one will go on record as to whether that is the course action that took place following the ‘accident’ (as it should be properly referred to) on the evening of September 23, 2020, and following but this is what we know.

Press Releases – reports?

The Governor arrived at the airport only minutes after the event of the aircraft rolling over the end runway. see https://www.themontserratreporter.com/flymontserrats-aircraft-rolls-off-runway-after-landing/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/fly-montserrat-new-incident-at-jao-airport/.

It was not known whether the Governor at this point had initiated the Inspector to begin his investigation as he would now have been informed of the events leading to the accident; we do not know by whom.

An email from the Governor’s Office stamped 5.15 p.m. read:

Monday, September 23, 2019

PLANE OFF THE RUNWAY AT JOHN A OSBORNE AIRPORT

We can confirm that at around 1620 this afternoon, a Fly Montserrat Islander ran off the runway at the John A Osborne Airport today.

All six passengers and the pilot are unharmed. The airport is closed until further notice while the incident is investigated and the plane removed.  Governor’s Office

Monday, September 23, 2019

Stamped as shown here is a ‘press release’ from Nigel Harris, who reportedly was in Switzerland at the time of the accident.

Fwd: FlyMontserrat Press Release. 24 September 2019

Nigel Harris<captainnigeljohn@gmail.com>

9/24/2019 4:48 AM

To  Shelley Harris  

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Shelley Harris < shelleygharris@btinternet.com>
Date: 24 September 2019 at 15:37:54 GMT+7
To: A Nigel < captainnigeljohn@gmail.com>
Subject: FlyMontserrat Press Release.  24 September 2019

FlyMontserrat Press Release. 24 September 2019
   All FlyMontserrat’s flights are running normally from 9 am 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 pm.
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.

Sent from my iPad

A press release from the Governor’s Office next day follows:

Governor releases – Incident at John A. Osborne Airport

“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.

We would also like to express our appreciation to the emergency services and airport authorities for their swift response and their hard work on what was a very rainy evening afterward. Their commitment and skill are a great reassurance to us all in this small island community.

A team from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK will be arriving in Montserrat tomorrow to work with the local investigator to help take forward an investigation. This will be important to ensure that any necessary lessons are identified, learned and implemented.  

In the meantime, discussions are underway on whether adjustments in airport operations are required pending the fuller investigation.”

In a press meet with the Governor the following 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.

That press meet ended with an agreement for the accident to be further addressed, but that has not happened to date. Instead, the Governor has appeared on ZJB’s breakfast show and spoke to the matter, has issued several statements as the fall-out from the instructions to close the airport when ‘the runway is ‘wet’ has been questioned, by the traveling public and the public in general.

In at least one of the Governor’s more recent statements he stated:

“There has been some good recent discussion on the closure in the media, but also some misunderstandings on some aspects. People may welcome clarifications and information on the way forward.

“The Governor does not have a personal responsibility for deciding such matters.

ASSI required that use of our runway in Montserrat in wet conditions be restricted temporarily after the accident last September. That was because they had grounds to believe that the very wet conditions at the time of the incident may have contributed to it.

The restriction is not when the runway is just damp, but when it is seriously wet. There is specific technical guidance on this for air traffic controllers.”

When the Governor first spoke to the press after the accident, he had said that the decision to open the airport the following day did not have anything to do necessarily with the wet conditions of the previous day.

There have been calls for the ASSI report to be published. The Minister of Communications and Works, Dr. Sammy Joseph has topped the list. He said that the Government has asked for the report but it had not yet been forthcoming, being told that it is still in draft. He noted, “The Governor is responsible for air safety and the regulation of airlines; while pointing out that his Ministry has responsibility for the infrastructures and the management and maintenance thereof.

For Premier Romeo said in a brief statement to ZJB Radio, that unless the Governor clears the air he will be calling for “an investigation into the investigation.” That was followed by the current Premier who had similar sentiments.

See Editorial in this overdue issue of TMR!

The confusion over the incident was clearly outlined in a telephone conversation/interview aired on ZJB What’s on your mind program when Basil Chambers spoke with the managing director, Paul Gravel if SVG the other airline out of St. Vincent that operates the Montserrat – Antigua route. He asserts that the notion of a report or decisions based on the ‘wet’ runway is misguided.

After outlining his company’s own experience operating in several islands with similar runways as the John Osborne airport’s since 1990, he said, “We were Invited to come to Montserrat in 2011… Montserrat is no different than any of the islands which are easy to land and it’s the same kind of category so far, it’s the same – as a few airports in the region that are all the same runway length – as Montserrat.”

He continued:  “…there was an incident last fall where I believe it’s a knee-jerk reaction on part of the government of Montserrat with an airplane that came in way too fast and couldn’t stop before the end of the runway and ran off the runway, and fortunately got caught in the fence. So, I think we have to deal with instead of having a knee-jerk reaction we really need to finalize what happened on that day.”

Mr. Gravel said he spoke to commercial pilots, his own pilots and several people who saw the plane landing and what happened that day. He opined that the conditions that day were just too much the inexperienced young pilot.

There exists live evidence by video that supports the SVG airline manager’s opinion, to which he adds did not have necessarily anything to do with a wet runway.”

That live evidence shows the aircraft on that day landing in considerable speed and touching down just around the turn-off to enter the terminal tarmac.

Exactly five months after the FlyMontserrat accident, what many things considered is very straight forward, Friday 14, Air Safety Support International (ASSI) sent out a statement which said the same thing as the Governor had reported they were advised, “Following an incident at the airport in September, ASSI has put operating restrictions in place pending the outcome of an official accident report. These restrictions prevent the runway being used in wet conditions and are solely in place for the safety of passengers and aircrew. Aviation safety must always take precedence over commercial considerations…”

We inquired of ASSI for clarification of the reference in wet conditions” in the statement. We got immediate response over the weekend: “ASSI has stated that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) defines ‘wet’ as: ‘The surface is soaked but there is no standing water.’  Montserrat Airport complies with this definition.” We were advised to get information from the manager, who sent us the following:

The presence of water on a runway is to be reported using the following:

DAMP — the surface shows a change of colour due to moisture.

WET — the surface is soaked but there is no standing water.

STANDING WATER — for aeroplane performance purposes, a runway where more than 25 per cent of the runway surface area (whether in isolated areas or not) within the required length and width being used is covered by water more than 3 mm deep.

Follow-up questions got, “no further comments at this time.”

At the Governor’s press meet referenced above couple days after the accident, when taking all o…”f the actions, correspondence, decisions taken to date, as well as prior knowledge I asked the question of the Governor, “what is the role of Nigel Harris at the airport regarding the authority, functions, and control?”

Governor Pierce responded, “absolutely none…!”

TMR has learned, while unable to substantiate, that there are plans for protest march looming for the coming week.

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FlyMontserrat’s aircraft ran off the edge of the runway, stopped by the wire fence

It has turned out that there must be some confusion if not just collusion of one kind or another, that flights into Montserrat have had to be canceled or aborted, “because the runway is wet”, creating an uproar among people with some apprehension as the St. Patrick’s Day Festivities approach.

Back in October last year, ZJB Radio published the following, by which today, the questions that should be asked. “Were these protocols set out by ‘The Civil Aviation Act’ followed, which fall under the Governor of Montserrat.

The Governor has softened his position recently, although he still maintains to some degree that he has no responsibility in the decision process because he is not an expert, which he is not required to be when he has the ‘experts’ who manage and run the airport, with some exclusions of those he does listen to, other than ASSI of course who depends on his reports for actions.

Insert Ads Here

 ZJB News in a report sets out: “that in any incident/accident, the local Air Accident investigation Manager on the ground would contact the Air Accident Investigation Branch in the United Kingdom to give an official initial update of the situation on the ground.

Following this initial report, the incident/Accident scene would be assessed and cordoned off to secure the site.

The local Air Accident Investigation Manager would then continue his investigation including taking photographs of the scene and any debris to formulate his evidence.

It is also expected that the Air Accident Investigation Manager will conduct interviews with the pilot and passengers, as well as eyewitness accounts of what happened Monday afternoon.

Following the presentation of this information to Air Accident Investigation Branch in the United Kindom, the organization will dispatch personnel to Montserrat to carry out further investigation.

And in some interesting development, the Manager of the John A Osborne Airport has confirmed to ZJB News that the regulators Air Safety Support International (ASSI) has given instructions to close for traffic at the facility once the runway is wet.”

However, if the Civil Aviation (Investigation of air accidents and incidents) Regulations 2007 are still in force in Montserrat, Section 5 reads as follows:

Duty to furnish information relating to accidents and incidents

This snippet from the video showing the aircraft landing half-way down the runway

“(1) Where an accident or a serious incident occurs in respect of which. by virtue of regulation 8(2)  below, the Governor is required to carry out, or to cause an  Inspector to carry out an investigation, the relevant person and, in the case of an accident or a serious incident occurring on or adjacent to and the relevant person (the commander of the aircraft at the time)  and, in the case of an accident or a serious incident occurring on or adjacent to an aerodrome,  the aerodrome authority shall forthwith give notice thereof to the Governor by the quickest means of communication available and in the case of an accident occurring in or over the Territory shall also notify forthwith the local police authorities of the accident and of the place where it occurred.

No one will go on record as to whether that is the course action that took place following the ‘accident’ (as it should be properly referred to) on the evening of September 23, 2020, and following but this is what we know.

Press Releases – reports?

The Governor arrived at the airport only minutes after the event of the aircraft rolling over the end runway. see https://www.themontserratreporter.com/flymontserrats-aircraft-rolls-off-runway-after-landing/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/fly-montserrat-new-incident-at-jao-airport/.

It was not known whether the Governor at this point had initiated the Inspector to begin his investigation as he would now have been informed of the events leading to the accident; we do not know by whom.

An email from the Governor’s Office stamped 5.15 p.m. read:

Monday, September 23, 2019

PLANE OFF THE RUNWAY AT JOHN A OSBORNE AIRPORT

We can confirm that at around 1620 this afternoon, a Fly Montserrat Islander ran off the runway at the John A Osborne Airport today.

All six passengers and the pilot are unharmed. The airport is closed until further notice while the incident is investigated and the plane removed.  Governor’s Office

Monday, September 23, 2019

Stamped as shown here is a ‘press release’ from Nigel Harris, who reportedly was in Switzerland at the time of the accident.

Fwd: FlyMontserrat Press Release. 24 September 2019

Nigel Harris<captainnigeljohn@gmail.com>

9/24/2019 4:48 AM

To  Shelley Harris  

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Shelley Harris < shelleygharris@btinternet.com>
Date: 24 September 2019 at 15:37:54 GMT+7
To: A Nigel < captainnigeljohn@gmail.com>
Subject: FlyMontserrat Press Release.  24 September 2019

FlyMontserrat Press Release. 24 September 2019
   All FlyMontserrat’s flights are running normally from 9 am 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 pm.
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.

Sent from my iPad

A press release from the Governor’s Office next day follows:

Governor releases – Incident at John A. Osborne Airport

“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.

We would also like to express our appreciation to the emergency services and airport authorities for their swift response and their hard work on what was a very rainy evening afterward. Their commitment and skill are a great reassurance to us all in this small island community.

A team from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the UK will be arriving in Montserrat tomorrow to work with the local investigator to help take forward an investigation. This will be important to ensure that any necessary lessons are identified, learned and implemented.  

In the meantime, discussions are underway on whether adjustments in airport operations are required pending the fuller investigation.”

In a press meet with the Governor the following 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.

That press meet ended with an agreement for the accident to be further addressed, but that has not happened to date. Instead, the Governor has appeared on ZJB’s breakfast show and spoke to the matter, has issued several statements as the fall-out from the instructions to close the airport when ‘the runway is ‘wet’ has been questioned, by the traveling public and the public in general.

In at least one of the Governor’s more recent statements he stated:

“There has been some good recent discussion on the closure in the media, but also some misunderstandings on some aspects. People may welcome clarifications and information on the way forward.

“The Governor does not have a personal responsibility for deciding such matters.

ASSI required that use of our runway in Montserrat in wet conditions be restricted temporarily after the accident last September. That was because they had grounds to believe that the very wet conditions at the time of the incident may have contributed to it.

The restriction is not when the runway is just damp, but when it is seriously wet. There is specific technical guidance on this for air traffic controllers.”

When the Governor first spoke to the press after the accident, he had said that the decision to open the airport the following day did not have anything to do necessarily with the wet conditions of the previous day.

There have been calls for the ASSI report to be published. The Minister of Communications and Works, Dr. Sammy Joseph has topped the list. He said that the Government has asked for the report but it had not yet been forthcoming, being told that it is still in draft. He noted, “The Governor is responsible for air safety and the regulation of airlines; while pointing out that his Ministry has responsibility for the infrastructures and the management and maintenance thereof.

For Premier Romeo said in a brief statement to ZJB Radio, that unless the Governor clears the air he will be calling for “an investigation into the investigation.” That was followed by the current Premier who had similar sentiments.

See Editorial in this overdue issue of TMR!

The confusion over the incident was clearly outlined in a telephone conversation/interview aired on ZJB What’s on your mind program when Basil Chambers spoke with the managing director, Paul Gravel if SVG the other airline out of St. Vincent that operates the Montserrat – Antigua route. He asserts that the notion of a report or decisions based on the ‘wet’ runway is misguided.

After outlining his company’s own experience operating in several islands with similar runways as the John Osborne airport’s since 1990, he said, “We were Invited to come to Montserrat in 2011… Montserrat is no different than any of the islands which are easy to land and it’s the same kind of category so far, it’s the same – as a few airports in the region that are all the same runway length – as Montserrat.”

He continued:  “…there was an incident last fall where I believe it’s a knee-jerk reaction on part of the government of Montserrat with an airplane that came in way too fast and couldn’t stop before the end of the runway and ran off the runway, and fortunately got caught in the fence. So, I think we have to deal with instead of having a knee-jerk reaction we really need to finalize what happened on that day.”

Mr. Gravel said he spoke to commercial pilots, his own pilots and several people who saw the plane landing and what happened that day. He opined that the conditions that day were just too much the inexperienced young pilot.

There exists live evidence by video that supports the SVG airline manager’s opinion, to which he adds did not have necessarily anything to do with a wet runway.”

That live evidence shows the aircraft on that day landing in considerable speed and touching down just around the turn-off to enter the terminal tarmac.

Exactly five months after the FlyMontserrat accident, what many things considered is very straight forward, Friday 14, Air Safety Support International (ASSI) sent out a statement which said the same thing as the Governor had reported they were advised, “Following an incident at the airport in September, ASSI has put operating restrictions in place pending the outcome of an official accident report. These restrictions prevent the runway being used in wet conditions and are solely in place for the safety of passengers and aircrew. Aviation safety must always take precedence over commercial considerations…”

We inquired of ASSI for clarification of the reference in wet conditions” in the statement. We got immediate response over the weekend: “ASSI has stated that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) defines ‘wet’ as: ‘The surface is soaked but there is no standing water.’  Montserrat Airport complies with this definition.” We were advised to get information from the manager, who sent us the following:

The presence of water on a runway is to be reported using the following:

DAMP — the surface shows a change of colour due to moisture.

WET — the surface is soaked but there is no standing water.

STANDING WATER — for aeroplane performance purposes, a runway where more than 25 per cent of the runway surface area (whether in isolated areas or not) within the required length and width being used is covered by water more than 3 mm deep.

Follow-up questions got, “no further comments at this time.”

At the Governor’s press meet referenced above couple days after the accident, when taking all o…”f the actions, correspondence, decisions taken to date, as well as prior knowledge I asked the question of the Governor, “what is the role of Nigel Harris at the airport regarding the authority, functions, and control?”

Governor Pierce responded, “absolutely none…!”

TMR has learned, while unable to substantiate, that there are plans for protest march looming for the coming week.