Report on Ferguson’s crash will be released Jan. 2

Air accident investigators have so far collected documents related to the plane crash of Byron Ferguson, which happened just over a year ago, but Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) Chief Investigator Delvin Major said yesterday a report detailing the cause will not be released until January 2.

Major said the report has already been completed.

However, he said it has been sent to local and international partners who assisted with the investigation.

The partners have 60 days to make comments “based on whether they want us to add something else,” according to Major.

He said the final report will be released on January 2 at the latest.

According to an interim report released yesterday by AAID, Ferguson was flying his Piper Aztec PA-23-250 when he left the West Palm Beach County Park Airport around 7:26 p.m. on November 8, 2018.

He was en route to the Lynden Pindling International Airport with a load of cargo on board.

“The aircraft crashed approximately 2.3 nautical miles (NM) from the approach end of runway 14 of the Lynden Pindling Int’l Airport,” the report notes.

“The pilot, major parts and components of the aircraft and an undetermined amount of cargo were never recovered as the aircraft was lost to the ocean.”

It noted that the purpose of the investigation was to prevent future accidents or incidents rather than to assign “blame or liability”.

Investigators took custody and reviewed aircraft maintenance records related to the incident, according to the report.

The records included maintenance checks, technical logs, airworthiness directives, modifications and repairs, airworthiness certification and other related documents.

The report noted the investigation team also “requested, received and reviewed a detailed weather report from the Bahamas Meteorological Department and weather analysis was conducted by the United States National Transportation Safety Board”.

“[It] received and reviewed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Blue Ribbon Package for the aircraft and airman,” it notes.

“[It] received and reviewed Air Traffic Control audio recordings and written transcripts from both Miami and Nassau control centers; received and reviewed Nassau Air Traffic Control facility logs; [and] received and reviewed official witness statements and reports from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).”

The report was released based on information collected up to November 8, 2019.

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.

The government has been widely criticized for its response and handling of Ferguson’s crash.

One week after the incident, Attorney General Carl Bethel said it would be unimaginable and mind-boggling if the team had found the airplane’s wreckage and abandoned it.

“So, it’s unfortunate that Byron’s case was handled in a way that was not to the standard of the general public,” Bethel said at the time.

“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.”

In July, AAID Chief Investigator Delvin Major said the incident has led to an improvement in the government’s handling of such matters.

“But going forward, we learned lessons from this unfortunate event that can carry us forward for other accidents in the future,” said Major.

“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.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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