CAACI dodges issue of heliport safety

| 17/06/2013

helipad_0.JPG(CNS): A statement released by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) on Friday relating to a ruling from Chief Justice Anthony Smellie which questioned the authority's certification of a heliport in George Town because of safety reasons gave very little away. In a ruling issued last month following a legal dispute the chief justice said the aviation authority had not followed its own rules and regulations when it licensed the new downtown helipad belonging to Cayman Islands Helicopters Ltd and ordered them to reassess the certification. However, the authority has made no comment on the findings other than to say people have a right to take legal action and has not said what it plans to do to address the CJ’s order.

In a meaningless statement released on Friday afternoon following the revelations in the local media about the issue, the CAACI said it took safety seriously. However, it did not say what it intended to do about the heliport and the reassessment of the license and the safety question.

The CAACI merely stated that it was a defendant in the legal action, which was filed by Axis International Ltd, the owner of a commercial site near to harbor front heliport. It said it was “disappointed” by the chief justice’s findings when he ruled that the CAACI "did not properly satisfy itself that all the regulatory requirements for certification were complied with and ordered that the Authority reassess the Heliport to decide whether or not the certification should stand.” 

However, there was no indication about the action that the authority plans to take or any details of the appeal which the authority is reportedly pursing with tax payers’ cash.

“While disappointed with the ruling, the CAACI accepts that in a democratic society governed by the rule of law, decisions of government and public authorities may be challenged through the Courts,” it said. “The CAACI reaffirms its commitment to the safety of aviation operations in the Islands and seeks to reassure the public that, as always, it will continue to apply appropriate regulatory standards, along with sound technical and professional judgmentin all its regulatory activities, through its highly qualified and competent staff."

But the claim rang a little hollow, given the findings of the chief justice, who pointed to a number of influences over the CAACI’s certification of the heliport, not least commercial ones, which appeared to override safety considerations. The country’s senior judge made it quite clear that the CAACI shifted the goalposts on safety in order to find a way to certify the heliport site, despite the numerous problems listed in his 149 page complex ruling.

See full CAACI statement below.

Related article on CNS:

GT heliport found unsafe

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A very poorly written press release.   It would be easier to say 'no comment'

  2. Anonymous says:

    CIH will have taken a hit on their business investment through what appears to be a poor peice of work by the CAACI.  Stand by for yet another law suit against the CAA CI!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The CAA CI have to pay the defendants costs?  They must be several hundred thousand so it's already cost Cayman people a lot of money.  The CAA CI also brought Queens Council from the UK at what cost.  This is all about the relationship of the Director and Cayman Helicopters owner, and licensing an obviously unsafe heliport. CNS, you need to ask some more questions as to what they are doing. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you will find they have some form of liability insurance to cover their defence of indefenseable decisions, which is wise if you are incompetent.  Wonder if that covers the other parties costs?

    • Anonymous says:

      You never heard of business insurance?  Duh!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Still – should have put it on the Island joined by the dock to Lobster Pot.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This story is being over blown. There are helipads in myriads of similar locations in North America. That's what helicopters are designed for; it's just that Cayman isn't used to them. 

    This lawsuit is all about grumpy neighbors unhappy with the noise, that's all. 

    • Anonymous says:

      What happened to the planning permission?

    • Anonymous says:

      You don't know what you are talking about.

    • Diogenes says:

      Think the ruling finds that CICAA did not apply the OTARS, which are drafted by the UK CAA.  So its not that Cayman is not "used to them" but that the helipad violates standards acceptable in the UK.  

      Having set up HLS and LZ's for the British military, I suspect this one would have problems with peace time requirements set by the UK military as well in terms of approach  and clearance (other than from one specific direction in certain prevalent winds), quite apart from the nuisance value of operating next to existing premises.  Sure, CIH may have a very good pilot who wouldn't use the helipad when it wasnt safe because of prevailing conditions, but thats a mile away from licensing for general use, or dealing with the myriad other considerations that go into approval of a routine use HLS.