Yesterday evening just after four o’clock a Tropic Air pilot was forced to crash land the 4-passenger Cessna 182 plane he was flying to the Roatan Bay Islands in Honduras when he experienced an engine malfunction. Fortunately, neither of the two tourist passengers was injured and there was rapid response from the Belize Coast Guard. While our attempts at getting comment from the management of Tropic Air were futile, we did speak with the Vice Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Commander Elton Bennett.
“At about 4:45pm we received information from Civil Aviation that a small Tropic Air aircraft went down between Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef atolls. Upon receiving the information we immediately deployed our rescue team from Calabash Caye Forward Operating Base which is just about 13 miles west of that location. We also deployed a search unit that was based out of Halfmoon Caye along with the park rangers from the Audubon Society. At exactly 5:05 – 12 minutes after receiving the information the search unit retrieved the three survivors from the plane which was still a float in the area and took them to safety at Halfmoon Caye. Later on that evening a coast guard vessel transported them back to the Turneffe islands. The casualty investigation will be done by civil aviation they have the authority to conduct aircraft accidents. I know that they have investigators on the scene now doing their investigation. At this time for us it’s just a rescue operation. All three passengers were in good order there were no medical issues to report.”
Love News understands that the Department of Civil Aviation has opened an investigation into yesterday’s incident and according to the Director, Lindsay Garbutt, it is an investigation that entails the reviewing of history logs as they pertain to the maintenance of the plane along with other factors.
“We had two teams, one that went out to the actual site and one that conducted an investigation, talking to the pilot. We are going to sit down at a meeting tomorrow and get a briefing report from both of those teams and then we are going to move from there. The first thing we need to do is establish what was the cause of the accident. Once we have established that then we will go wherever that investigation takes us. It’s normal that you would look at all the service history of the aircraft, we are going to do an interview of the pilot and whatever passengers were there and then we are going to come up with a conclusion. We have people that are experienced and trained in aviation so they are going to put all the facts together and they are going to give us a draft report. That takes a while, that takes a couple days because you have to be careful with these kinds of things and we want to make sure that whatever information we get is checked and double checked if necessary even with the manufactures of the aircraft. Details of the investigation is something that we have to be very thorough with and we have to be very careful and we have to follow very strict standards that is set up by the International Civil Aviation Organization; those bits of information we are collecting and analyzing. After that we are going to be able to have a first draft of what our findings are but as it is there is nothing that I know about that we can add to what was said yesterday which is that they had some difficulties. Fortunately they were able to come down in the water. Generally the first thing we do when there is any accident or incident is that we have the pilot to take a blood test just like you would do in a traffic accident so like I said we are going to be very thorough and as factual as possible and whatever we can share with you we will be more than happy to.”
The pilot, Denfield Borland made the emergency landing at the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Traveling in the plane were an American national, Arthur Rogers and a Honduran, Eddie Bodden. As was mentioned, both passengers and the pilot escaped unhurt.