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I can’t wait to begin our operations here – Captain Palmer

I can’t wait to begin our operations here – Captain Palmer

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“I’ve been looking at the approaches for the last four years, and it was exactly what I expected.”

This, according to one of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ most experienced pilots, who landed one of the four aircraft that touched down at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) last Thursday.{{more}}

In a short address to the crowd that gathered to witness the historic event, Jonathan Palmer, owner of Mustique Airways, said that there was nothing unusual about the flight nor the landing.

“The landing was very routine for us. There were no surprises,” enthused Palmer.

“It’s was an honour for me to have landed here today… It was great being able to bring the passengers in.”

With 42 years’ experience flying in and out of the ET Joshua Airport, the senior pilot added: “I can’t wait to begin our operations here; I am really looking forward to it! I am sure it will be really soon.”

Also present at the press briefing was Donald McPhail, director general of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), who was a passenger on the second aircraft to land at the AIA.

McPhail lauded the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on executing the safe landing of the four planes.

He said that he and his team from the ECCAA were present at the event last Thursday for “flight checking of the various procedures that have been developed for the approach to and departure from” the international airport.

“Today, we were here to inspect the runway to ensure its readiness and suitability for the aircraft used for these flight checks today, as well as for the other aircraft that have landed since.”

McPhail also said: “The construction of an airport this size is very difficult and complex – it is no easy feat. It includes a great deal of preparatory work, design and planning.”

Recalling that the ECCAA was first engaged regarding the AIA in 2007/08, he explained that a needs assessment had been conducted, and it was determined that an international airport was “missing and greatly required” for SVG.

“A decision would have been taken based on this assessment. This would have been followed by a site identification and evaluation. Studies like the environmental impact assessment and other studies that would have informed the actual design for the airport,” he pointed out.

“Since then, the authority has received, for its approval, a number of designs for the various components of the airport – as well as variations to some of these designs… There were a number of regulatory meetings between the development company and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the department of airports… and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority.”

McPhail further expounded that even at this stage in the airport’s development, there continue to be meetings and check-ups to verify the compliance of the “standards and recommended practices stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organization.”

McPhail said that the two main areas of concern that are being focused on at this point are safety and security.

“This is to ensure that any airplane that lands here or departs from here or any use of the airport is in a safe environment as well as a secure environment.”

Also piloting one of the four planes to land at the AIA was Everett Best, chief pilot at SVG Air.

Best, who has 31 years’ experience of piloting aircraft in and out of ET Joshua Airport, also confirmed that the landing was uneventful, and said that he was never doubtful about the success of the AIA.

“The Prime Minister has always been saying about a crosswind runway, and I sent a message to him and asked him please to desist from using that term, because it will never be necessary. I am confident to say it will not be necessary!”

The other pilots who landed planes last Thursday also included Michael Bowlig (ECCAA tester) and local businessman Kelly Glass. (JSV)

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