Major: Lessons learned from Ferguson crash response
While the plane and body of Byron Ferguson, a pilot who went down a relatively short distance from New Providence late last year, have yet to be recovered, the response to the crash, and the criticism of it have improved the government’s handling of such matters, Chief Investigator at the Air Accident Investigation Department Delvin Major told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
In the early hours of Thursday, July 4, American billionaire Christopher Cline and six other people were killed after the helicopter they were on crashed two miles off of his private island, Big Grand Cay.
Authorities located the helicopter and recovered the bodies later that day.
Major said the swift and more efficient response to the helicopter crash was due to the Byron Ferguson incident.
“This is because of lessons learned,” he said.
“In every accident, you learn things about what to do and how to do better in the next case, if that happens.
“So it may be so that people feel that response was slow, and based on all the feedback that we got from that, we have changed a lot of our procedures.
“Even as it relates to family assistance, that has greatly improved as a result of what was learned from Byron Ferguson’s unfortunate accident.
“So, it’s the perception that the public has, but that can be attributed to the fact that lessons were learned from the previous [case]. With all cases, even with this case now, we may learn new things, so that in the next accident, should it happen, we would have improved based on what we learned from this case.
“So, it’s unfortunate that Byron’s case was handled in a way that was not to the standard of the general public. But that’s unfortunate; we cannot go back and do anything about that.
“But going forward, we learned lessons from this unfortunate event that can carry us forward for other accidents in the future.
“We don’t hope for accidents, but it’s unfortunate that they do happen, so when they do happen, based on lessons learned from the previous [accident], our response and our agency’s coordination would be much improved.”
Bjorn Ferguson, brother of Byron Ferguson, said that while he is pleased to see the proactive response to this most recent crash, he believes his brother’s crash should have been treated with the same level of urgency.
Byron Ferguson has been missing since his plane, a six-seater Piper Aztec, crashed in waters two nautical miles from Lynden Pindling International Airport in November.
In the hours after the crash, officials said they spotted debris suspected to be from the aircraft. However, when they returned to the site the next morning, they were unable to find the wreckage.
“It’s very unfortunate that … the response [to my brother’s crash] wasn’t as robust and aggressive as what is taking place now,” Ferguson said.
“But, you know, every person deserves that level of response. I would also like to extend my most sincere condolences to that family, and I only can imagine what they’re going through.
“It’s very unfortunate and tragic, any loss of human life in those circumstances, but that’s the level of response we expect as citizens. I think any right-minded person understands the importance of getting there quickly and trying to save lives.
“And then outside of that, for the investigation part, what should inform the civil aviation industry afterward. You want to know what brought the plane down, whether it was pilot error or mechanical error. The industry has a right to be informed of any mishap. So it’s important to get there quickly and to recover or save human lives first. That should be the first order of priority and then recovering the actual aircraft so that an investigation could inform the industry.
“Unfortunately, in my brother’s situation, we won’t know what brought that plane down.”
Ferguson added, “It’s unfortunate that that family went through that situation, but on a national level, we are a country that is an archipelago, and obviously air transport is very vital to connecting the islands, and so we must be sensible in the way that we regulate and have oversight over that industry.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish