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BELL 412 CRASH: Army boss was to be onboard, pilot diverted original flight path- GDF

BELL 412 CRASH: Army boss was to be on onboard, pilot diverted original flight path- GDF

Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Brigadier Omar Khan has confirmed to the media that he was among the persons who were to be on the flight of the Bell 412 that crashed at Arau on Wednesday killing five servicemen and leaving two survivors.

During a press conference Saturday morning at the GDF Headquarters, Base Camp Ayanganna, the Chief of Staff was asked about his and another senior officer’s intended presence on the said flight. After some hesitation in answering the question directly, the Army head confirmed “The flight on Wednesday I was meant to go in”– Brigadier Omar Khan.

The head of the Army Air Corps confirmed that the flight that left Georgetown on Wednesday left way below the weight requirement for the Bell 412 helicopter which has a required take-off load of 11,900 pounds, dispelling any questions about the craft being overloaded at the time. The aircraft according to the Air Corps Head, only had its crew of three and four passengers on board.

On Saturday the media was also told that during the flight, Lieutenant Michael Charles deviated from the original flight path to the Arau destination. It was however noted that deviations by pilots are done for several reasons. The GDF on Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday have been complaining about the bad weather conditions in the area where the flight crashed on Wednesday.

Today, the remaining members of the Special Forces who were part of the search and rescue operations will be extracted from Region 8 and return to their army base, the GDF told the media.

Now that the rescue mission is over, the GDF is examining its options for removing the mangled and badly burnt helicopter from the crash site. The press was told that it was mostly the body of the craft that was burnt.

The Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority will now be taking over the investigation.

On Wednesday while heading to visit troops in Guyana’s western border, the Bell went down killing four servicemen, among them four senior officers of the Guyana Defence Force. Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan died in the crash.

Lieutenant Andeo Crawford and Corporal Dwayne Jackson who were also onboard the flight survived the crash.

After a tedious and trying search and rescue operation, the survivors and deceased were flow to the Eugene F. Correia International Airport on Friday.