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jeudi 2 juin 2011

An eight-seater Cessna 421 aircraft ran off the Vigie airport runway around 11:40am on Wednesday April 13. The fire service, stationed at the airport, responded to the crash immediately and the pilot, who was the only one on the aircraft at the time, was taken out unharmed.

Most identify the aircraft as the Dollar Plane because the owner claims to have bought it for EC$1. The aircraft’s pilot, Silvanus Ernest was on route to St Lucia from Barbados when trouble hit. Upon his arrival into aerodrome, he realized his landing gear was faulty. He attempted to test land the plane three times before finally landing on the fourth. While landing the craft, although the landing gear deployed, the left landing gear did not engage properly causing him to veer into the airport fence near Nelson Mandela Drive (the side of the airport facing the beach).

This is not Ernest’s first crash with a small craft, according to reports. Addressing the press he said when he realized the danger he was in, his only thought was seeing his wife and two sons again.

The St Lucia Air and Seaports Authority held a press briefing following the incident where they commended their emergency response team and assured that the few hours the airport was out of commission did not severely impact passengers or carriers. However, this incident did raise questions about the location of the airport given its close proximity to a primary school and fuel station.

SLASPA General Manager Sean Mathews assured an assessment was well underway and the public will be informed as to the recommendations of the organisation and future plans for the George FL Charles Airport.

Ernest played an integral role in having the fence removed as well as towing the plane onto the runway. The plane was towed away and the fence repaired.

Operations at the airport resumed at 3:30pm. Officials at the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) arrived at 5:30pm to investigate the matter.

At the briefing, Ernest expressed concern about the sanctions he may face for this incident.