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ECCAA start probe into SVG Air crash; pilot and passenger not found

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006 – 8:30 am UPDATE

One investigator from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) has already arrived and another one is due in a matter of hours to start a probe into the disappearance of an SVG Air aircraft Sunday evening.

Feared dead are pilot Dominic Gonsalves and sole passenger Manager of American Eagle on Canouan Rasheed Ibrahim.

Investigators will have their work cut out as search teams have so far turned up four items from the downed aircraft: an unused flare kit, a seat rest, a life jacket that was not inflated and a wooden chock with the markings “SVG Air”.

One of the areas in which the investigation is expected to focus are the circumstances at the time the aircraft disappeared and why there was a lag time between its disappearance and the start of the search and rescue.

The plane should have landed at 6:55 pm Sunday. The pilot radioed four minutes before arrival but never arrived. It took more than two and a half hours before a search and rescue operation was launched.

Reports suggest that Neisha DaSilva, the mother of Rasheed Ibrahim, was the person who raised the alarm after her son failed to show up.

Director of Airports Corsel Roberts said the plane enroute from Canouan to St Vincent Sunday evening was last in contact with the Control Tower at the ET Joshua Airport as it was descending through 1100 feet over the western end of Bequia on its final approach to St Vincent. It was somewhere along that nine mile stretch that the plane vanished. In the last radio contact, SVG Air pilot Dominic Gonsalves reported seeing a Dash-8 aircraft in front of him. Robertson also reported that a LIAT aircraft reporting sighting the five-seater aircraft.

There was no distress call.

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