Aviation minister: “Glaring deficiencies” in ATC being addressed

Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D'Aguilar.

Pilot and controller contributed to 2018 near mid-air collision, report says

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While assuring that The Bahamas has an “impeccable” record and an extremely safe air traffic control system, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday acknowledged the “glaring deficiencies” in Air Traffic Control (ATC) which were highlighted in a recently completed Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) report into a near mid-air collision between two aircraft in September 2018.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he told reporters outside the Churchill Building.

“If you think about the amount of movements that take place at that airport… we have had an impeccable record.

“No loss of life. Obviously from time to time issues will arise, but we are on top of it and the proof is in the pudding.”

The report completed on April 8, 2019, noted that two aircraft simultaneously departed the runway at Lynden Pindling International Airport on September 22, 2018, around 7 a.m. and had a near “mid-air collision”.

According to the tower log, a private owner operating a Piper Aztec with two souls on board was given instructions to depart runway 27 and continue on its course to Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands.

Eight seconds later, instructions were given to a turbo-prop aircraft, which had 28 souls on board, to depart from the threshold of runway 14 with a left turn after departure.

Its destination was Freeport, Grand Bahama.

The Piper Aztec reportedly taxied onto and departed from an alternative runway, contrary to the instructions issued by ATC, the report read.

“Both aircraft eventually commenced takeoff [and] roll headed towards each other,” the report read.

It continued, “The near mid-air collision occurred adjacent to the Control Tower and Apron 5, out of camera range.

“Aircraft separation height over the runway unknown.

“Neither aircraft was aware of their close proximity or conflict possibility until advised by Air Traffic Control.”

The report said while the investigation did not identify any abnormalities with either aircraft or air traffic controller equipment, related safety concerns that needed to be addressed were uncovered.