April 29, 2005

BWIA, American in near mid-air collision

Several West Indians aboard a BWIA plane are today thanking their lucky stars following a near mid-air collision over Miami International Airport on Saturday afternoon.

Reports indicate that the aircraft, which was on its way to Grantley Adams International Airport, had just completed its “climb” when passengers sitting on the starboard side saw an American Airlines aircraft approaching. {{more}}

One passenger who was on the flight with his wife told the DAILY NATION those who witnessed the incident said the approaching aircraft was so close to the Barbados-bound aircraft that the name of the airline could be clearly seen.

The male passenger, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the experience was “simply frightening”.

“The descent of the Barbados-bound aircraft was so sudden it could not have gone unnoticed by any of the passengers on board. They began to scream and cry.

“I cannot say who was responsible for the near mishap; I just know that all of the passengers were badly shaken up after the incident. In panic my wife said she wanted to get off the plane,” he added.

The passenger said Sunday was the first time all members of his family awoke early to attend church. “We were so happy to be alive that every member of my family attended church Sunday. I am still terrified to think that my daughter could have lost both of her parents in an air disaster,” he said.

Meanwhile, a female passenger who was sitting on the starboard side of the BWIA plane told the DAILY NATION she became terrified when she saw the other aircraft approaching.

“There were heavy clouds around and then suddenly I saw this aircraft approaching our plane. Our plane swerved to the left and took a sudden drop. Passengers began to scream. I was so terrified I did not eat or drink anything for the remainder of the flight to Barbados. Even today (Sunday), as I speak to you, there is still a heaviness in my stomach.”

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago’s Civil Aviation Authority has begun an investigation into the incident.

While stressing that at no time were the passengers, crew or airline in danger of a collision, Ligoure said that in keeping with standard procedure, the report on BW431 of April 23 had been forwarded to the aviation authority.

The communications manager assured the travelling public that all commercial aircraft were required by law to have an installed, operational Traffic Collision and Avoidance System (TCAS) which immediately informed and commanded the pilot to manoeuvre the aircraft away from any conflicting traffic.

She said that the manoeuvre warranted higher than normal, sudden control movements, which were felt by the passengers.