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#498647 - 12/04/14 09:17 PM Plane slips off runway at Muni, no one hurt
Marty Online   happy
On Thursday December 4, at approximately 2:20PM Tropic Air flight #281 was en route from San Pedro to Belize City Municipal. Upon landing on the rain soaked runway, the aircraft slid off into the shallow water at the eastern end. There were 5 passengers including a medivac patient and pilot on board. While we continue to investigate the incident, our primary concern is for the safety of our crew and passengers. No injuries were reported.

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#498664 - 12/05/14 10:00 AM Re: Plane slips off runway at Muni, no one hurt [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Engine Failure: Tropic Air Takes A Plunge

A Tropic Air Cessna Caravan plunged into the waters adjoining the municipal airstrip in Belize City today. It happened at 2:20 pm when the turbo prop launched off the runway - reportedly after its engine inexplicably cut off. Five passengers and a pilot were on board - but none of them were hurt.

The plane was flying from San Pedro to Belize City when - unofficial reports say - the engine died - and it could not apply the reverse thrust that is necessary for deceleration when landing. With that, it barreled off the runway into the sea.

And while details of the incident are still sketchy, 7news spoke with one eyewitness who said it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Frank Vernon - Witness
"We were all sitting over there and we look we saw the plane coming in and when it get to the center of the runway, it bounce and the pilot allowed it to go along, but when it get to the corner he decide to go for the brakes. The rear wheel on the side bend and it went straight to the water. Luckily it didn't fell on the back because people would have gotten hurt. One person was coming from San Pedro and while they rescue him, the ambulance came immediately and took him. The plane didn't have a lot of people and the plane is brand new, just came in two weeks ago."

David Choe - Area Resident
"I was just taking a walk with my dog and I notice in the water there were lots of shiny - appearance in a sense and automatically you could tell that its jet fuel, you could even smell it. I am kind of concern because that could catch on fire."

"How did you realize that that's what it was?"

David Choe - Area Resident
"Just from the smell alone. It smells like a whole can of gas was poured over you. Of course I am not covered in gas, so you could definitely know that it's from the water."

"How bad is it?"

David Choe - Area Resident
"I would say it's extremely bad. You could see it all along the coastline and I really hope someone comes to go do something about it because it's an environmental risk per se right. I catch my fish from there every morning."

The plane was hoisted out of the water at 5:30 this evening. We could not get any comment from civil aviation today but they have launched an investigation. Tropic air sent out a three-line press release but would not comment further at this time.

Unofficial reports tell us that the Cessna Caravan was recently acquired - the fifteenth in the Tropic Air fleet. We'll have more in this story tomorrow.

Gunshot Victim Was On Plane

One of the passengers on that flight was a man who had been shot a few minutes earlier in san Pedro.

Carlos Najeras, was shot when he tried to stop a robbery in progress.

Police believe the robbers were from Belize City and that they used a 38 revolver which may have been used in other recent robberies on the island.

Najeras was passing by when he saw a storekeeper bring robbed. He tried to stop the crime and was shot in the foot. His injury is not considered life threatening.

Police say two suspects were involved: one clear skinned, the other dark skinned. After the shooting they dashed out of the store on foot. Regular Police street patrols were busy with the Special Olympics torch when the robbery occurred.

Channel 7

Crash Landing at the Municipal Airstrip

A single engine Tropic Air plane left San Pedro this afternoon and crash landed on arrival at the Belize Municipal Airport. While the pilot was able to land the plane, he could not bring it to a complete stop and the aircraft came to rest in the nearby sea. The incident is attributed to the slick conditions of the runway. On board were five passengers, including a shooting victim who was being transported to the K.H.M.H.  All escaped unscathed, but the aircraft is being deemed inoperable, a loss of four million dollars. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was at the municipal airport immediately after the plane crash landed. He files the following report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A domestic flight to Belize City, inbound from San Pedro this afternoon, crash landed at the Municipal Airstrip shortly after two o’clock, when it slid off the runway upon touchdown.  Onboard the single engine aircraft were five passengers, including Carlos Najera who had been shot during an early-afternoon robbery on the island.  According to John Greif the Third, President of Tropic Air, the commuter plane careened off the slick runway due to unstable weather conditions we have been experiencing since the beginning of the week.

Via phone: John Greif III, President, Tropic Air

Via Phone: John Greif III

“Today, December fourth, at approximately 2:20 p.m. our flight number two-eighty-one was en route from San Pedro to the Belize Municipal Airstrip.  As you know, the weather has been bad all over the country so the runway was rain soaked.  The pilot landed and was unable to stop the aircraft and it ran off into the shallow water at the east end of the runway.”

Fortunately, the pilot and his passengers escaped the accident unscathed.  The aircraft, however, became waterlogged almost immediately; its prop and wings jutting out from the shoals.  Moments later, authorities converged on the scene.

Via Phone: John Greif III

“We are investigating, along with Civil Aviation, what happened.  But our primary concern is the wellbeing of our crew; in this case it was one pilot and our five passengers.  And one of the passengers was medevaced from San Pedro, we had actually delayed that flight and moved it around a little bit to try to get a gunshot victim off the island.  So our primary concern is for the safety of our crew and our passengers but nevertheless we continue to try to determine exactly what happened.”

Isani Cayetano

“Were there any injuries reported as a result of this incident?”

Via Phone: John Greif III

“No.  Neither, we had everyone taken to the hospital and ironically three of the people were going to the hospital anyway.  So there were no injuries reported or otherwise.  They literally were no injuries.’

While it may be too early to determine the full extent of damages, Greif says the aircraft has been declared inoperable.

Via Phone: John Greif III

“Visually it is not very damaged but anytime an aircraft gets immersed in saltwater it’s useless so it won’t be able to be reused.”

Isani Cayetano: Can you speak to us about some of the safety precautions that can be taken by pilots in cases like these where the weather is one of the forces acting against a successful landing?

Via Phone: John Greif III

“Good question.  We take safety and training very seriously here at Tropic.  I don’t know if you remember, we reported it to the news about a year ago.  We bought a caravan simulator so we have in our office in San Pedro a device that exactly mimics the inside of the caravan.  It has ten or twelve flat screen TVs that mimic the look of the outside of the airplane so much so that when you’re taxiing in San Pedro you can see our terminal building from the San Pedro airstrip and everything.  And all of our pilots spend several hours a month going through recurrent training, weather training, instrument training and all that.  So we take the safety aspect of it very, very seriously.”

The primary issue, according to the experienced aviator, is the location and size of the airstrip itself.  Despite ongoing work to expand the facility, landing in Belize City is somewhat dangerous.

Via Phone: John Greif III

“The problem with the Municipal Airstrip is, I’ve been in aviation in Belize for over forty years.  I started flying here when I was fifteen and the Municipal Airstrip is simply too short, it’s too narrow and it’s surrounded by water on all three sides.  The government is expanding and lengthening it but it’s just taking forever to get that done.  So in my opinion, the primary enhancement to aviation safety in Belize would be to finally finish with the Municipal Airstrip.”

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of an estimated dollar amount, can you give us the value of the aircraft that has been damaged?”

Via Phone: John Greif III

“Sure.  It’s four million dollars.”

An investigation led by the Civil Aviation Department, as well as Tropic Air remains ongoing. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5

#498706 - 12/06/14 10:28 AM Re: Plane slips off runway at Muni, no one hurt [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Tropic Air, Should They Have Been Warned?

Yesterday it made headlines everywhere when a Tropic Air Cessna Caravan plunged off the runway at the Municipal airstrip and took a dive into the Caribbean. No one was hurt - but it does raise valid concerns. First among them is that Tropic had only just bought the aircraft last month for 4 million dollars.

So what went wrong? Tropic Air is saying its was an engine failure, but the Civil Aviation Department which is leading the investigation is being very guarded in its remarks...

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"Tropic Air Flight 281, Cessna 208 Caravan inbound from San Pedro to Belize Municipal Airport was involve in an accident. The aircraft had 1 pilot and 5 passengers. Upon attempting to land at the municipal airport the aircraft was not able to come to a full stop in the existing length of the runway and ended up departing the runway and coming to rest beyond the end of the runway in the water."

John Greif, Owner - Tropic Air
"One thing we know for sure that the municipal airstrip is too short. The pilot said boss if I had a next hundred and fifty feet it wouldn't have been a problem."

Jules Vasquez
"Tropic Air has admitted and the police said that the engine died and he wasn't able to apply reverse thrust to decelerate within the allotted space. Was that the issue?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"I can only say to you that my international protocol and Belize law does not permit me to speak with any reference to any investigation. It may prejudice that investigation."

Jules Vasquez
"Now they've been a number of incidents have come to our attention involving Tropic Air; there is one at Blancaneaux where a plane ran off the runway I am told. That was in November. There was another one in November right at the municipal; a plane landed in the mud at the end. Is safety an issue?"

John Greif, Owner - Tropic Air
"Jules, I know you are the press, but you are almost right. You are right one out of three; we did have a junior pilot in a small plane land on the, what will be the new airport at the municipal. The plane wasn't damage, there was nothing wrong with it, and the abundance of caution, because the propeller had struck the ground. We took the engine out, send it to the factory to be analyze, at Amerijet today, and it will be back in service. The other two incidents - it didn't happen to Tropic. I can't speak for anybody else."

Jules Vasquez
"We've heard reports since mid-November of three other incidents involving Tropic Air; 1) at Blancaneaux, a small single engine plane run off the runway. 2) We heard that at the municipal a plane landed in the mud before the airstrip, the part that's being filled now."

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"Currently I would have to research the information and then I could speak with you more on that matter."

Jules Vasquez
"But sir, it must be at hand. My problem is that civil aviation continues to operate like a secret society. For years I've been in the media, so we have never seen one report. If there is a bus accident, the police have to give us the report. But you all operate as if this is not public safety."

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"You are right. We are working on changing those."

Jules Vasquez
"But you could change it right now Nigel. Just tell me, the thing happen or not?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"The current legislation requires that the minister releases the information regarding any accidents. With reference to incidents, I don't want to speak on any incidents because I don't have proper information. I want to give you factual information. I can guarantee you that you can come back to me and I will answer those questions for you in a factual way."

John Greif, Owner - Tropic Air
"Unfortunately Jules planes are built by humans, they are maintained by humans, they are flown by humans and stuff happens."

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"We believe of the 300,000 flight operations, if we do have an accident it is definitely regrettable. But we do believe that our safety record remains up there with any first world country."

But do those first world standards extend to Tropic Air's safety and training operations? It's a valid question with yesterday's incident and at least one other within the last month that Greif admitted to. There is a credible report of another incident at Maya Flats, not Blancaneux that we have heard of.

Now, Tropic Air reports that it operated over 50,000 flights last year, with more than 300,000 passengers to 16 destinations. Indeed, it is very fast growing, but has that grown outpaced the maintenance and safety regimen? That what we asked:..

Jules Vasquez
"Is there ever a concern that you all are going too fast to keep up with your safety standards, with your maintenance standards?"

John Greif, Owner - Tropic Air
"My partner Steve Schulte think about that on a daily basis. Remember Jules, our wives, our daughters, our grandkids fly on these planes, so safety is absolutely number one."

Jules Vasquez
"Are they grown too fast to keep with a proper regimen of maintenance and safety and training?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"Well we know that Tropic Air has grown, they've expanded their routes and so forth, but we do regulate that growth. So we can say that we have done our due diligence to ensure that the company has grown and complying with standards."

As we have reported, the Cessna Caravan that went into the sea yesterday was added to the tropic fleet only half a month ago. It was acquired for a cost of 4 million dollars - and was the first in its fleet outfitted with an air conditioned cabin. We found out more about its air worthiness today:...

Jules Vasquez
"I know you all have sent our press release that you all acquire this plane. Was it acquire new, refurbished, how was it acquired?"

John Greif, Owner - Tropic Air
"Unfortunately Cessna quit making the exact airplane that we are using. They put a different engine in and is no longer suitable for us. But this plane was 3-4 calendar years old and it only really been used for a year or so. It was almost new."

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"When the aircraft comes into Belize, we carry out what we called a conformity check. That involves an extensive review of all of the aircraft including its components and everything that went into the aircraft. So we conduct that and base on the inspector's review, we issue a certificate air readiness which is valid for a year."

Jules Vasquez
"So that airplane was deemed a worthy as of mid-November?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"That is correct."

Jules Vasquez
"One would have to be slightly surprised to hear that it went into the sea half month later."

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"Yes, buy again, with reference to the nature of accidents there are many components to any accident. However, there are many contributing factors that may come into play to cause the aircraft to be in that position to have that accident occur."

And so while Civil Aviation investigates, they will be contacting the National Transport Safety Board in the US and Transport Canada.

But on the environmental side a portion of the 600 pounds of fuel that were in the plane has leaked out into the sea - leaving a thick slick of oil along the Belize City coast. That's about 90 gallons of aviation fuel and we asked who will clean it up:..

Jules Vasquez
"Now we have no contingency in place I gather to clean that up and there will be no fine against Tropic for that? Is that a part of the assessment?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"Currently at least in civil aviation, there is now laws protecting the environment from that standpoint?"

Jules Vasquez
"So then theoretically I could just go into the sea and pour 200 gallons of fuel, if I have that kind of money to waste and nothing would happen to me?"

Nigel Carter, COO - Civil Aviation Department
"You would to speak with the Department of the Environment on that one."

The Civil Aviation Department says it will issue its preliminary findings as soon as possible.

Channel 7

#498710 - 12/06/14 10:40 AM Re: Plane slips off runway at Muni, no one hurt [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Shooting & plane crash victim Carlos Najera is in stable condition in the Belize City Hospital, after a very bad day (yesterday) for him. The bullet hit his tendon which will require surgery and therapy in order for him to walk normal again.

Ambergris Today

“I was there when the plane came down from the airstrip and I noticed it hit in the middle then it came down the machine was not working because the propeller had stopped and when he go there he started to make a turn in order to brake and therefore the plan hit. As you notice one of the wheels were bent. No passengers were injured so..”

Frank Vernon was at the Belize Municipal Airport when he saw Tropic Air flight #281 plunged into the sea, a few feet away from the runway. The plane was attempting to land, coming in from San Pedro to Belize. It happened about 2:20 in the afternoon and inside the plane were 4 passengers and the pilot. No one was seriously injured. It was minutes before six o’clock that the Cessna plane, with the help of a crane and the maneuvering of staff, was pulled out of the waters unto a trailer. The plane’s right wing and wheel were extensively damage. Manuel Heredia Jr., the Minister of Civil Aviation, arrived on the scene. He declined comment because he did not know much about the incident. An investigation has been launched and today we spoke to the Chief Operations officer in the department, Nigel Carter, more about it.


“Upon attempting to land the aircraft was unable to come to a stop within the available amount of runway. The aircraft excited the runway and ended up coming to full stop in the water just beyond the run way.”


“In terms of preliminary results can you say whether it was mechanical failure or human error?”


“Okay due to international standards and our own present regulations we are unable to speculate as to the cause of the accident due to the fact that it might prejudice the investigation itself.”


“Following this accident we were told it’s not the first time it has happened, about two or three weeks ago there was a similar incident, were you aware of that?”


“I would have to get back to you on that, I would have to research on it and then I could inform you all about that.”


“But you have gotten those reports?”


“I don’t have any reports on it, I would have to do some research then I would have to inform you all later on.”

And it will be much later before the investigation reveals what exactly went wrong. Whether mechanical failure or human error, Carter says that depending on the results, punitive actions can be taken.


“It’s all dependent on what we find. In many instances if there is need to dig deeper and find out more specific information then the time frame does expand so it’s all dependent on where the investigation takes us.”


“In a case like this for example if it were human error or mechanical failure are there any sanctions that can be brought upon the company or the pilot?”


“There are no punitive actions that are taken as the direct result of an air craft accident. However if we find that there was gross negligence or a violation then we make move with punitive action.”


“Will that include pulling the license from the company.”


“With reference to that matter I would have to consult the civil aviation act and that will detail exactly what measures we could take.”

From the long hours that the plane was in the water, the fuel of it leaked out, spreading outward and causing David Choe to be concern.


“From the long hours the plane was in the water the fuel of it leaked out, spreading outward and causing David Chu a lot of problems.”


“I was just taking a walk with my dog and I noticed that in the water there was a lot of shiny colors and automatically you could tell that it was fuel because you could smell it. So I am kind of concerned because that could catch fire. I would say it’s really bad, all along the coastline and I hope someone will come do something about it because it’s an environmental risk, I catch my fish from there every morning.”


“Flight Schedules are back to normal, the plane is insured as dictated by law and the international civil aviation organization has been notified of the matter.”

Flight schedules are back to normal. The plane is insured as dictated by law and the International Civil Aviation Organization has been notified of the matter.



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