56-year single-engine aircraft ban lifted at VG airport as new airline expresses interest to operate
After nearly 56-years of being in effect, the single-engine aircraft ban at the Taddy Bay International Airport on Virgin Gorda has been lifted.
Premier Andrew Fahie said during Thursday’s sitting of the House of Assembly that consideration to lifting the restriction was made after an international airline company expressed interest to conduct business on the sister island.
“Following conversations with the regulator — Air Safety Support International (ASSI) — as well as an in-house assessment by the Authority’s operations team, a decision was made to lift the restriction following a request by Tropic Ocean Airways to operate flights into Virgin Gorda,” Premier Fahie stated.
“The Board of Directors held an emergency meeting where a resolution was approved to allow for the Accountable Manager to put the necessary measures in place to have the restrictions on single-engine aircraft operations into the Virgin Gorda Airport lifted,” he added.
Test flights conducted
According to the Premier, those measures included a number of test landings at the airport, which was conducted earlier this month and deemed a success.
He said: “On the instructions of the regulators, a series of familiarisations/test flights were conducted on 5th February 2020 to determine if in-fact the aircraft and crew were capable of operating into the airport.”
“Cleo Hodge, an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) designated examiner and pilot well versed with the aerodrome and its operations, was selected to conduct the flights. Mr Hodge confirmed that he was satisfied with the competence of the flight crew and the performance of the aircraft,” the Premier added.
He also said that measures were taken to ensure that the requisite insurance coverage is in place at the airport for single-engine operations, and said that by March 2020 at least one other airline company is expected to be added to the approved list of carriers.
History behind the ban
The single-engine aircraft restriction was placed on the Virgin Gorda airport in 1964, by Basil Fleming who was the then Director of Civil Aviation.
It was identified that high crosswinds associated with operations into the airport were the primary reasons why single-engine operations were not allowed.
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