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Fri 4th Dec 2015

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Airline pilots concerned about safety at Argyle airport

Airline pilots are concerned about the safety of landing and take-off at Argyle airport when there are strong winds. The winds at Argyle are crosswinds. Landing and taking off in crosswinds is much harder and the Federal Aviation Authority says take-offs and landings in certain crosswind conditions are inadvisable or even dangerous.

In very windy conditions “wingstrike” may occur, which is when a wing hits the runway. Airbus says wind is the main cause of 4% of ‘approach and landing’ accidents.

The farcical scene of four planes landing at Argyle recently was a joke and proved nothing. The day was clear and there was little wind.

All aircraft have a maximum crosswind limit that they can fly in. A number of the LIAT aircrafts have a maximum crosswind limit of only 20 knots on narrow runways, such as at Argyle. It is likely we will see many occasions when LIAT cannot operate flights to and from SVG, at Argyle, because the winds there are frequently stronger than 20 knots.

Airline pilots say, to really test Argyle, a day should be chosen when the crosswinds are 20 knots or more.

The problem airline pilots foresee, is that the new LIAT aircrafts will likely be unable to land or take-off at Argyle when the winds are 20 knots or more, and this is often. The new LIAT ATR planes are more unstable in strong crosswinds than the old Dash-8 aircrafts.

The wheels on the new LIAT ATR aircrafts are under the fuselage, whereas on the old Dash-8 aircrafts, the wheels are under the engines, about one-third of the way along the wings. As the wheels on the new LIAT ATR aircrafts are much closer together, landing in strong crosswinds will be more dangerous as it is more unstable.

As one pilot said ‘it’s like riding a bicycle in a hurricane’.

If Argyle airport is opened and E.T. Joshua airport is closed, then our country will have major problems. Due to the crosswinds, Argyle will be closed for many, many days of the year when the winds are strong. On these days, there will be no flights in or out of St. Vincent. This will damage our economy and inconvenience many passengers.

We know E.T. Joshua airport works: better to keep that open and in use, rather than close it and take a big risk with Argyle and suffer many days of no flights at all. We cannot afford to keep both airports open.

The whole Argyle airport fiasco has been yet another financial disaster under Gonsalves. Over 800 million dollars has been wasted at Argyle, yet no cost – benefit analysis has ever been presented to the public to show Argyle will boost the SVG economy.

The ULP regime has already admitted that Argyle will not make a profit and will cost more to run than it will make. Argyle should not be opened. Airlines are not overly keen to fly to Argyle. The ULP regime has revealed that the only way to get bigger airlines to fly to Argyle is to pay them. This will waste millions of dollars more and would be an economic disaster, plunging our country further in to debt.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Mr Ivan O’Neal, has a BSc (Hons.) degree in Accounting and Finance from Oxford Brookes University, England, and in his opinion, the project should have never been started. Argyle will only drag our country down and tourism will never make our economy strong and sustainable.

Gonsalves has been reckless with taxpayers’ money and a disaster in managing the country’s finances. The Director of Audit failed the ULP regime for 2008, 2009, 2010. Gonsalves is financially incompetent.

SVG needs change and competent financial leadership. We cannot waste millions more and wait 10 more years and hope that Argyle might bring a profit. We need to invest in our people today and create thousands of new jobs. We must focus on Vincentians’ needs, not tourists’ or rich foreigners’ needs.

For the sake of our country and our children, SVG Green Party supporters should vote NDP in the constituencies that do not have a Green candidate. Equally so, SVG Green Party is calling on NDP supporters, to vote SVG Green Party in the constituencies where there is an SVG Green Party candidate. An SVG Green Party / NDP coalition will manage the country better.

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