Fri 30th Sep 2016

Argyle airport foolish

In the week ending 23 September 2016, SVG Minister of Finance, Gonsalves, was in a New York Town Hall meeting, telling the SVG diaspora that the Argyle airport will become operational soon and hundreds of acres of land at E.T. Joshua airport will be sold for development.

Nothing has changed with regard to the multitude of serious flight safety hazards that plague the Argyle airport. Any talk about opening Argyle airport for international passenger flights is absolute rubbish. The runway is in the wrong place and the wrong orientation and there are very strong and dangerous gusty cross winds.

According to the Federal Aviation Authority, airport development should not proceed until adequate wind data are acquired. However, at Argyle, only 9 months of wind studies have been seen. To build airports, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) say that 5 years of continuous wind studies are needed before construction.

With no mandatory ICAO five year continuous wind study of the Argyle airport site, it is highly unlikely that Argyle airport will achieve the 95% usability factor. Argyle will fail to get a licence to operate international passenger flights.

Argyle airport is like St. Helena airport. There was a lack of wind studies done there and now EC$1 billion has been wasted. Wind-shear and turbulence have made it too dangerous to use. Planes trying to land there are blown off course.

It is likely that the St. Helena airport will be mothballed. It will not open. Strong crosswinds at Argyle airport make it unlikely to open for 5 years, until we have 5 years of continuous wind studies completed at Argyle airport.

The UK government was warned of the risk of high winds at St. Helena in a report by the Meteorological Office, but the site for the St. Helena airport had been chosen three years before that report. Likewise, the Argyle airport site and the Argyle runway orientation have both been chosen before a 5 year continuous wind study has been done.

Test pilots testing St. Helena airport said it was too dangerous to use. Passenger flights are postponed indefinitely by Comair and Atlantic Star Airlines because of safety fears. Airlines say they won’t fly there as it is too dangerous. It is likely to be the same case that airlines find Argyle too dangerous, as the ULP regime still cannot name airlines that are contracted to fly to Argyle airport.

Work on Argyle Airport has come to a virtual standstill. Appointing a new Chairman of IADC will not cure the multitude of serious flight safety hazards that plague the Argyle airport. Gonsalves’ Town Hall meeting in New York was simply political oxygen for the ULP regime for general elections which appear to be on the horizon.

If the ULP regime’s strategy is to operate Argyle airport at all costs – despite the obvious flight safety hazards - to provide an opportunity to close E.T Joshua airport, to sell off hundreds of acres of land for development, then only utter madness will be the outcome.

Argyle airport is a foolish project and should be aborted so that no more money is wasted.

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