Guyana: Min Edghill Refutes Claims Of Pilot Error In Military Helicopter Crash

(CMC) – Insisting that the investigation into the helicopter crash last December that claimed the lives of five military offices is not done, the minister responsible for aviation has dismissed an article claiming that pilot error was responsible for the deadly accident.

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill said in a statement on Saturday that the article published by Caribbeanlife.com two days prior had “prematurely” reached conclusions on an investigation that is still ongoing.

Edghill noted that three days after the December 9, 2023 crash of a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter near the border with Venezuela, he appointed an investigator in charge to investigate the incident which resulted in the deaths of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles who was the pilot, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome, and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan. There were two survivors – Lieutenant Colonel Andio Michael Crawford and Corporal, Dwayne Jackson.

“Consistent with international standards and best practices, no one can conclusively pronounce the cause of an accident until the investigation is completed and the final report is available,” he said.

“Given that the investigation is still ongoing, it is surprising that the author of the article prematurely concluded that ‘Pilot error will more than likely be blamed for the horrific early December crash of a Guyana Defence Force helicopter,’ The author’s claim of speaking to three separate high-ranking Guyanese government officials who all blamed pilot error as the main cause of the crash is nothing short of sensationalising the outcome of the investigation.”

Edghill said that he has not made any public statement on the accident since the investigator was appointed, as he wanted to “respect the investigative process”.

He therefore urged the media: “Wait for the official final report to be published before making any assumptions. Let’s exercise caution and refrain from jumping to conclusions until then.”

The GDP had lost contact with the helicopter on December 6, about 30 miles east of the Venezuelan border, during bad weather, while transporting officers carrying out a routine inspection of troops in the forested area. The wreckage was found the following day.