What is really going on at Piarco Airport? In ten days two large aircraft have been damaged by ground vehicles traversing the tarmac or apron. The first was a BWIA plane which was damaged by a water truck. On Saturday night, an aircraft of the Continental fleet was damaged, when a ground service vehicle transporting a conveyor belt rammed its fuselage leaving a twelve by twelve inches dent. The repair of a dent on a motor vehicle is expensive enough, but on an aircraft it is considerably higher. Apart from the cost of repairing the damage, Continental for example, had to fly in a replacement plane from Texas to transport the 107 passengers who were left stranded at the airport for many long hours.
The Airports Authority has stated that it will be carrying out an exhaustive investigation. We sincerely hope they do because accidents such as these two cannot be treated lightly, not only because of the cost to the airlines or the inconvenience to passengers but because sooner or later there will be injuries to travellers. We have a habit in this country of allowing accidents, considered minor, to go unchecked and only get serious when a major episode occurs. Even now there are reports that two smaller aircraft were damaged by ground vehicles but no one is confirming or denying the reports.
Heaven forbid that the tarmac of our airport should become like our highways, where the frequency of accidents are an everyday occurrence. The cause of the accidents on the ground at Piarco has to be investigated thoroughly and nipped in the bud immediately. We must find out what is causing what appears to be careless driving of vehicles on the tarmac. We say this because, again according to the reports, the aircraft was stationary at the time of the accident and it would be difficult for the driver of any ground vehicle to miss seeing a plane of its size. We must put an immediate stop to this before it is too late.
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