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A bad signal by a baggage handler performing the role of an aircraft traffic marshal at the E.T Joshua Airport on Wednesday morning may have resulted in a Caribbean Star aircraft colliding with one of Liat’s planes.

This is the view of a Caribbean Star employee who was aboard the Caribbean Star flight 799.

The employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, refrained from specifying the damage sustained to the plane stating that only an engineer could make such a determination.{{more}}

When contacted, Ricardo Drayton, Managing Director of Vincy Aviation, local agent for Caribbean Star had another theory. Drayton said that an investigation carried out on Wednesday morning determined that the accident was a clear case of “tight ramp congestion” at the E.T Joshua Airport. When told of the Caribbean Star employee’s version Drayton said: “As far as we are concerned that was not the case.”

He said essentially it was a situation where the Caribbean Star aircraft was attempting to maneuver between parked aircraft, and the wing tips of the Caribbean Star and Liat planes touched.

The incident is said to have occurred sometime between 8:45 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Dominic Patterson, Liat’s local manager, on Wednesday morning confirmed that Liat’s 381 flight did in fact sustain damage while there were 50 persons on board. However, later in the afternoon when contacted for an update on the issue, he declined to give a statement stating that he had to await instructions from Liat’s head office.

It is reported that at the time the accident occurred, the passengers on Liat 381 flight destined for Trinidad had just boarded. The Caribbean Star flight from St. Lucia, also en route to Trinidad, had just landed, when it struck the Liat plane’s left wing.

Both planes were subsequently grounded.

“It wasn’t anything dramatic,” said Shevon Lynch, a passenger from the Liat 381.

“Actually I did not feel anything. We were just told that we had to disembark,” said Lynch.

Another passenger who gave his name as A. Ollivierre noted: “It felt like when you are loading the baggage to the plane.”

“It’s a disappointment, but for me it worked out in my favour because I would not have to wait long in Trinidad,” said Janice Gibson, en route to Canada, in respose to the setback.

From all indications, most passengers aboard the Liat flight did not feel the impact of the mishap and some only knew of the accident after the flight attendant told them that a Caribbean Star plane had made contact with the Liat plane and as a result they would have to disembark. However, they are aware that the incident could have been more serious.

Liat’s passengers were expected to leave on another aircraft at 11:40 the same morning.

Ironically it was on a Wednesday that the last accident involving an aircraft took place at the E.T Joshua Airport.

It was just hours after conducting an emergency drill at the airport on Wednesday, June 30, 2004, that firemen had a real-life situation to deal with. A Trans Island Air twin otter aircraft ran off the airstrip and crashed into the fence in the vicinity of the nearby Sunrise (C.K. Greaves) Supermarket car park.

It eventually came to rest in a large drain just inside the protected airport compound.