MRCU plane skids off runway

Owen Roberts International Airport was closed briefly yesterday following an accident with the remaining Mosquito Research and Control Unit’s plane.

On landing, the plane skidded off the runway, resulting in visible damage that includes a bent left wing and mangled landing gear. The pilot suffered no injuries and emergency services responded instantly.

The plane was returning from its morning spray routine.

The accident means there will be no aerial spraying of mosquitoes in the immediate future. MRCU’s other plane was damaged during Hurricane Ivan in September.

Two new planes, which will have a greater capacity and which were especially designed for the Cayman Islands MRCU, are on order and expected on Grand Cayman at any time.

While the incident was not serious, the airport was temporarily closed to allow a crane to lift the plane from the side of the runway and transport it to the MRCU hangar.

A full Civil Aviation Authority investigation will follow, but MRCU officials said that the plane did not experience any engine trouble while flying.

MRCU Director Dr. Bill Petrie added that there was no larvicide in the plane at the time of the incident as the pilot had just completed his morning round of larviciding.

The Ministry for District Administration, Planning, Agriculture & Housing added that MRCU adheres to a very strict maintenance programme, and at no point was the plane in any danger while still in the air.

‘Thanks to the pilot’s many years’ of experience, he was more than well-prepared to deal with the situation and bring the aircraft to a safe halt,’ said the ministry’s Ms Christine Maltman.

Dr Petrie assured the public that MRCU’s aerial programs will resume shortly as the unit’s new planes will soon arrive.

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