Pilot steers faulty aircraft
Friday, 07 December 2007

By Armin Petzold - Staff Reporter

The Civil Aviation Department is conducting an investigation that will perhaps explain what caused a Maya Island Air single-engine aircraft to abort takeoff and roll off the runway at the municipal airstrip in Ranchito Village, Corozal.

Sometime around 5:30P.M. on Tuesday, the Cessna with registration V3-HFS, which was piloted by 32-year-old Nigel Flowers with 11 passengers aboard, took off heading south for San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

Less than a minute into the flight, the pilot began to experience mechanical problems and opted not to take off, three-quarter ways down the landing strip. Realizing that there was just not enough space to stop, Flowers steered the flying machine unto a privately owned farm, but not before hitting a barbed wire fence and running into several oranges trees before coming to a halt some 520 feet beyond the runway.

While there were extensive structural damages to the aircraft’s left wing, landing gear and front portion, after the impact with the trees, no one on board was seriously injured.

Seven of the passengers were treated and later released for minor injuries – three in neighboring Chetumal and four in Belize City, including the pilot who received numerous lacerations to the face. The remainder felt well enough and continued their journey to the island on another flight.

While investigators continue to determine what exactly caused Flowers to abort takeoff, there is still a major concern in regard to the condition of the airstrip’s runway.

It is riddled with potholes and if the problem is not addressed soon, representatives from Maya Island Air say that their flights to Corozal will soon be cancelled for precautionary reasons.

Currently, there are eight incoming flights per day – four from Maya Island Air; the reminder from Tropic Air.