St. John’s – Local meteorological chiefs have revealed concerns that the weather on Sunday was not ideal – the same day a Montserrat bound aircraft crashed killing three people.
Moments after the tragic incident, alarm bells rang regarding whether atmospheric conditions were a contributing factor in the horrific smash.
Despite the thunderstorms and lightning witnessed island-wide, chief executive officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority, Stanley Smith, told a news conference late Sunday that the weather was good at the time of the incident.
“From the report we are actually getting from the airport control tower the weather control was good,” Smith said.
But director of Met Services Keithly Meade said an upper level trough was lingering in the area for quite some time, which created unstable conditions on the island.
He noted that the instability caused developing thunderstorms and lightning around 2 p.m. and continued until shortly after 4 p.m. – mere moments before the incident.
“The conditions were something to be a bit careful about. Looking at the radar from home I could see quite a bit of build up in the Coolidge area with some heavy thunderstorms. That activity was moving south towards the Carlisle area,” Meade said.
The director said as the weather system continued later into the afternoon, information was conveyed to air traffic controllers on an hourly basis.
He, however, noted that even though the information was passed on, the final decision clearing aircrafts to fly was left up to the authorities.
“Based on the information we have, it is passed on to the control authority to make them aware of what is going on,” Meade said.
He added the information is also passed on to the pilot upon request.
On Sunday, the Britten-Norman Islander plane crashed shortly after take-off from a rain-slicked runway about 4 p.m.
The plane was leaving Antigua for nearby Montserrat, where the airline, Fly Montserrat, is based.
But it plummeted to the ground killing pilot Jason Forbes and 29-year-old Annya Duncan, of Jamaica, on impact.
Two other passengers, 57-year-old Sandrama Poligadu, of Guyana, and 23-year-old British citizen Michael Hudson were rushed to hospital where Poligadu died shortly after arrival.
Hudson remained in a critical condition at Mount St John’s Medical Centre up to press time. (Antigua Observer)