Fatal GDF helicopter crash: Black box sent overseas for analysis


As the investigation continues into the crash of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Bell 412 helicopter which claimed the lives of five soldiers and left two others injured, the black box which consists of the aircraft flight information has been sent to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, United States for analysis.

“The black box is at this time at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington and is awaiting their investigation of the box,” Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Col. (ret’d) Egbert Field told the News Room on Tuesday.

According to Field, the investigation, which is headed by GCAA’s Airworthiness Inspector Krishnanand Ramlachana is ‘progressing’.

“It’s progressing….The investigator is in touch with the NTSB and he will be following up on when they would require the investigating team or the investigator to visit the NTSB for the briefing of the investigation,” Field told the News Room.

Director General of the GCAA, Egbert Field

While local investigators continue their work, Field noted there is no deadline as to when the investigation is expected to be completed.

“It is up to the investigation and the amount of work that the investigation have to do,” he said.

The GCAA and the Police Force are the two agencies that are spearheading the investigation.  And in keeping with protocols, the GDF has convene a Board of Inquiry (BoI) for its own internal review.

The crash, which occurred on December 6, 2023, claimed the lives of five service men. They are: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome and Warrant Officer Class 2, Jason Khan.

They were part of a seven member crew who were on board the army’s Bell 412 helicopter.

As they were 30 miles from the Venezuela border, signal for the helicopter was lost. About two hours after take-off, the aircraft transmitted an emergency locator transmitter signal from coordinates approximately 30 miles east of Arau on Guyana’s western borders.

Search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to locate the crew members and the aircraft.

And the following day, after strenuous efforts, the team found the crash site about nine miles south-east of Blake Slater’s airstrip, Ekereku Top, Cuyuni River and then confirmed that five soldiers died.

The two soldiers who survived the crash are Corporal Dwayne Jackson and Lieutenant Andio Crawford.

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