Rescue teams have found some personal items belonging to the passengers on board a single engine aircraft that crashed into the sea on leaving the Douglas Charles Airport, on Sunday night, the chief executive officer of the Dominica Air and Sea Ports Authority (DASPA), Benoit Bardouille, has said.
Speaking on the state-owned DBS radio on Monday, Bardouille dispute earlier reports that the Piper F-OGKO aircraft, with four people, including the two pilots, was approaching the airport when the incident occurred at 6.43 pm (local time).
“Four souls are on that aircraft. What we are doing earnestly is to try to see how we can find the aircraft and the four souls that were on board. We are hopeful that’s of something …since the aircraft may not have gone too far away from the airport.
“But certainly, we are very concerned and we are doing everything along with the police as well as the French authorities to try to see how we can do any rescue or retrieval of anything that would provide the kind of evidence required for an investigation”,.
Earlier reports had indicated that the plane had crashed soon after taking off from the airport, but Bardouille told listeners the French-registered small Piper aircraft “was given clearance to take off from Douglas Charles Airport destined to Raizet Airport in Guadeloupe”.
Bardouille said the aircraft was airborne at about 6.43 pm (local time) and the pilot was instructed by the air traffic controller to report when he passed 1,500 feet in the climb.
He said a few minutes after giving the clearance, the air traffic controller tried to make contact with the pilot and was not successful.
“He did not make contact with the aircraft. He made several attempts but received no response. The traffic controller took a look at the radar …and could not identify the aircraft,” he said, adding “Raizet Airport was immediately contacted and they informed the Douglas Charles control that they had no information on the aircraft”.
He said that the necessary protocols were activated since the aircraft was considered to be missing with the Fire Services later receiving a call from residents in the Marigot area, close to the airport about seeing a plane crash into the sea.
“Guadeloupe was notified as well as the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) and the search continued last night with two helicopters, the local Coast Guard and some of the fisherfolk in the Marigot area”,
He said the search re-stated on Monday in a new location ‘and within that area thus far, a bag and a passport have been found…and there is active search within that locality”.
French authorities had earlier reported that the aircraft had carried persons to Dominica for a day long visit organised by the “Ailes de Guadeloupe” club and that the weather conditions were excellent at the time of the incident.
Bardouile said that the ECCAA and the French authorities are going to conduct investigations into the crash and urged persons to stop spreading false information on the matter.
“The aircraft was given clearance to take off from Douglas Charles Airport to Raizet Guadeloupe. Clearly there is a lot of information out there that’s incorrect and as we term it these days, a lot of fake news are out there,” he told radio listeners.