MRCU plane damaged

Mosquito Research and Control Unit’s aerial spraying programme faces another delay, after the unit’s new Ayres Turbo Thrush aircraft was damaged by a blast from a corporate jet’s engine.

According to MRCU, witnesses, including an MRCU staff member, said the incident occurred when visiting pilots of the corporate jet powered up the aircraft to park in the general aviation parking area. This area is west of MRCU’s hangar at the Owen Roberts International Airport, states a GIS press release.

The blast, which occurred 18 February, damaged the MRCU aircraft’s tail section.

However, because the aircraft was secured to its tie-downs, it stayed more or less in place.

‘We don’t yet know the full extent of the damage, as we are waiting for the manufacturer (Thrush Aircraft, Inc. of Albany, Georgia) to come down to do a full damage assessment,’ MRCU Assistant Director Jennifer Ahearn said. ‘But we anticipate that there is some hidden damage.’

Once the manufacturer’s assessment is completed, MRCU will have a better idea of when the regular aerial spraying programme will resume, she noted. The unit had been preparing to resume aerial operations in April.

Civil Aviation Authority representatives investigated Saturday’s incident, questioning the visiting pilots and requesting that an occurrence report be filed. The CAA will report its findings with regards to responsibility.

MRCU received the new aircraft on Friday, 27 January to replace an older plane that was damaged in August 2005 when it skidded off the Owen Roberts runway. A second new Thrush aircraft is expected to arrive in time for the rainy season.

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