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Caribbean: Online Reactions to Guyana Plane Crash

When news broke early Saturday that a Caribbean Airlines flight had crash landed at Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Timehri, Guyana, the regional blogosphere sat up and took notice. Until the incident in its 71-year history, the airline (which ceased operations as British West Indies Airways in 2006, changing its name to CAL) had boasted an unblemished safety record – so despite the fact that there were no fatalities, the story was a big deal, especially since CAL is in the process of a merger with Air Jamaica. Bloggers, after all, are also travelers.

Guyanese bloggers were the first to comment. propaganda press! called the Timehri airport “a dangerous trap waiting to kill people”:

1. it does not have proper lighting
2. there are no services, equipment or trained personnel to deal with emergencies
3. it has insufficient power supplies…there was actually a blackout for the first couple hours of this accident

Demerara Waves published a series of updates on the accident, here, here and here.

Soon, other regional netizens started blogging about the event. Barbados Free Press called the lack of fatalities a miracle, saying that the crash could have been much worse:

Thank God there was no fire because according to the reports nothing else went right just after midnight when a Caribbean Airlines 737-800 slid off the end of the runway in the rain and broke up while landing in Guyana.

The blog completely disagrees with the propaganda press! take on the readiness of Timehri Airport, saying:

Cheddi Jagan International Airport is not a bad airport as the region goes. With over 7,000 feet of runway in pretty fair condition, the CAL Boeing 737 should have been able to land safely no matter the weather. The runway has an excellent friction coefficient (the surface is rough and grips the tyres), great drainage during rain and the approach is easy compared with many major airports…

Instead, BFP makes the assumption that “cockpit culture” may have contributed to the incident:

It’s all about inertia and momentum and they lost. Did they try and go around too late or not at all? I don’t know – but Thank God there was no fire because the smoke eaters didn’t arrive until ten minutes after the aircraft ran off the end of the runway and broke up.

The post even goes on to publish the viewpoint of a reader, “Tom”, who is “a Captain for a small airline in the Caribbean” and makes a jab at Caribbean Airlines, under the headline: REDjet looking good!

Compatriot Cheese-on-bread! echoed the sentiments of BFP in terms of the crash not being worse than it was:

What could have been the Caribbean's worse air disaster since the Cubana crash in the 1970's was thankfully a simply a close call for over 160 persons travelling on a Caribbean Airlines flight from New York to Guyana on Saturday morning.

Repeat after me …. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!

From Jamaica, Girl With a Purpose mistakenly reports that there were two Caribbean Airlines crashes – the first in Guyana and the other in St. Barths. The erroneous news was also being posted on a Facebook thread, until one user confirmed that the story was years old and about another air carrier. Caribbean Airlines does not operate flights into St. Barthelemy.

Still, even while acknowledging her mistake, the blogger maintained her position on “Caribbean Airlines hiring and rehiring Jamaican maintenance crew, pilots and ground crew”:

I think it's a mistake for them to get rid of some of the best people who understand how to maintain and fly, 10+ year-old aircraft.

…Their safety record proves it.

The conversation has been continuing on Twitter, under the hashtag #CAL crash.

The thumbnail image used in this post is a screen grab from the Caribbean Airlines home page.

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