A year to investigate Bowen’s plane crash Print E-mail
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Thursday, 04 March 2010 00:00

Photo courtesy San Pedro SunThe Belize Department of Civil Aviation held a press conference on Wednesday March 3rd to update the public on the status of the investigation into the plane crash that claimed the life of Sir Barry Bowen and four other persons. In speaking with the media, Civil Aviation Director Jose Contreras traced the last hours of the plane. In so doing, he concludes that the flight was a normal one with no communication from the pilot to say there were any problems.

On Friday, Bowen’s plane made three previous flights before the collision. Contreras

says that these included a flight from San Pedro to Belize City, one from Belize City to Privacion Airstrip and from there to Belize City before it finally took off for San Pedro. Bowen’s flight from Belize City was managed by the Air Traffic Control which had communication with him at a cruising altitude of 3,500 miles. It was not until the plane was some 13 miles outside of San Pedro at 5:16p.m. when he was advised to switch to a common broadband system, which is a radio system used by pilots to communicate their intentions. Shortly thereafter at some five miles outside of San Pedro, the plane disappeared from the radar, which is the norm when planes are making their final approach for landing at the San Pedro Airstrip. However, at .8 miles before arriving at the airstrip, the plane crashed. That is believed to have been at around 5:18p.m.

Contreras says that “no emergency was declared” and by all appearances it was a normal flight. However, Bowen who had a total of 5,705 flying hours and who had been licensed to fly in Belize from  as far back as August 28, 1967, is believed to have “lost control of the aircraft due to other contributing factors” which are yet to be determined. Brian Dominguez, the investigator who is leading the inquiry into the plane crash, says that evidence gathered so far from the scene of the crash indicates that Bowen had lost control of the plane and was attempting to recover when it hit three masts of a barge that was nearby. That caused the plane to come crashing into the swamps in the area.

Both Dominguez and Contreras say that there is a team of investigators who are now trying to determine the reason why the plane crashed. Those investigators include two pilots and two aircraft maintenance engineers classified as inspectors working with the department. Additionally, there is an investigator from CESSNA and another from Rolls Royce which is the manufacturer of the engine that was in the plane.

While the investigation on the scene is almost complete, Dominguez says that the full investigation has no time frame on which it may be completed. He says it may take at least twelve months before it is completed.