Tropic Air plane forced to land at sea with passengers aboard

By Alexis R. Milan
Staff Reporter

The Civil Aviation Department has started its preliminary investigation into the accident involving a Tropic Air plane which made an emergency -landing in the sea in shallow water on Tuesday. The aircraft has not been recovered so far.

Civil Aviation Director, Lindsay Garbutt told The Reporter that a salvage company will be contacted to recover the submerged aircraft and once they have recovered it, inspection on the plane can begin.

When asked if there would be any penalties or if Civil Aviation was concerned about Tropic Air’s safety record, since this is the second plane to go down in less than six months, Garbutt said it was too early to speculate on anything of that nature. Until an investigation has been completed, he said, no conclusions can be drawn.

The Tropic Air Cessna 182, travelling from the Phillip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) en route to Roatan. Honduras, had make an emergency landing in the sea on Tuesday evening after experiencing engine problems in the air. Fortunately, none of the plane’s three occupants was seriously injured.

The plane made a distress call to the airport’s control tower around 4:17 p.m. The pilot, Denfield Borland, reported to the control tower operators that the single engine Cessna was experiencing problems and he would not be able to reach its destination, so he would attempt a water landing in the Half Moon Caye area. The Civil Aviation immediately contacted the Belize Coast Guard, which then dispatched a Coast Guard vessel stationed at the Turneffe Atoll and the Belize Audubon Society, which operates a station at Half Moon Caye.

The team responded swiftly and found the pilot and his two passengers on a safety raft that was on the plane.
The plane is estimated to have gone down around 4:45 p.m. and the rescue took place around 5:10 p.m. The survivors were taken to Blackbird Caye, and later brought back to shore.

This incident is the second involving a Tropic Air plane crashing into the sea in less than six months. Last December as a Tropic plane was preparing to land at the municipal airstrip in Belize City, it fell in the shallow water just a few feet away from the runway. i

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