Cayman Islands Helicopters to return to George Town

A business offering scenic helicopter flights to tourists will return to downtown George Town next week after winning another legal battle against its neighbors on the waterfront. 

Pilot Jerome Begot, owner and operator of Cayman Islands Helicopters, said he would be back at the downtown location in time for the busy tourist season. 

Flights were suspended from the location in June last year after a judge ruled that the site “may not be considered safe in its current form” and advised the Civil Aviation Authority to reconsider its decision to grant an aerodrome certificate for the helipad. 

The CAA and Cayman Islands Helicopters successfully appealed that decision in March. In a ruling published earlier this month, the helicopter business was awarded legal costs. 

Mr. Begot said he was happy to put the matter behind him and would be back in George Town within a week. 

“We are painting the building and I hope to be back there next week. We are flying from the airport at the moment. 

“I think the ruling shows to people that justice was done, we did nothing wrong. This was never about safety. I have always been safe and approved by the CAA,” he added. 

Mr. Begot said it was important to his business to be downtown where the majority of tourists are. 

“When I am downtown, it is like black and white compared to being at the airport for the business.” 

The business has been embroiled in legal battles with businesses on the waterfront since opening its base there in 2011 in an effort to attract more customers – particularly from the cruise ships that dock in George Town harbor.  

Two downtown businesses, Axis International and Coastal Two, challenged the original decision to grant planning permission on the grounds that it would cause noise pollution and disruption to their businesses.  

Axis International also applied for judicial review of the aviation authority’s decision to grant an aerodrome certificate for the site, saying the location was unsafe. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie upheld some of the complaints and said the CAA had failed to ensure compliance with the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements or to demonstrate that it has ensured an equivalent level of safety to justify deviating from those guidelines.  

But the Court of Appeal decided that the CAA had considered those requirements – which are guidelines rather than rules – and had the necessary evidence before it to come to the conclusion that the aerodrome was safe. 

Helicopter-Man

Cayman Islands Helicopters owner and pilot Jerome Begot says he’ll be flying out of downtown George Town starting next week. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

1 COMMENT

  1. Noise pollution and disruption to businesses in George Town Harbour are the least offensive detriments in allowing a tourist helicopter on the waterfront and over George Town buildings. Mr. Jerome Begot of Cayman Island Helicopters argued that he has always been safe and approved by the CAA and thus Justice Anthony Smellie’s decision that helicopters above the George Town area and the helicopter aerodrome were not safe. The Court of Appeal overturned Justice Smellie’s decision that the CAA had failed to ensure compliance with the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements, and granted Mr. Begot the right to fly from the waterfront helipad/aerodrome. Alas, fatal sightseeing helicopter crashes are common all over the world – from Hawaii, Grand Canyon, Arizona, Nevada, New York City in the Hudson and East Rivers, London, Scotland, Newfoundland, Estonia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Peru – and alas, a Cayman Islands tourist sightseeing helicopter is an accident waiting to happen.

  2. Sorry Nan but you’re just repeating all the kind of ill-informed marl road nonsense that started this.

    The operation is not only completely safe but it makes a very important contribution to the tourist experience in Grand Cayman.

    Leave things like this to people who understand the aviation industry.

  3. Nan, I suppose we should stop the airplanes too due to all the airplane crashes that have occurred, shall we? Or how about stopping the cruise ships due to all their problems recently? What about the diving due to all the complications occurring from that? All those are accidents waiting to happen but we still let those things occur. I recommend finding a better argument against the helicopter tours unless you want to attempt to stop all those too.

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