John A. Osborne Airport Runway

Governor’s Office Requests Independent Assessment on Best Aircraft for John A. Osborne Airport

The Governor’s Office is accepting bids to assess aircraft suitability for John A. Osborne Airport. Meanwhile, a petition is circulating calling for the government to properly assess the island’s access situation.

According to the notice, the requested assessment is aimed at maximising the potential of John A. Osborne airport, taking account of current and new aviation developments. In doing so, aviation safety and security remain paramount. The outcome of the assessment will be reviewed by ASSI.

The office, headed by Governor Sarah Tucker, is responsible for ensuring the security and safety of operations at the airport, a responsibility which is delegated to UK Air Safety Support International (ASSI) which acts as Regulator, the bid notice read.

The report is to be made public.

The successful bidder will need to compare the overall viability of aircraft types to include but not limited to the DHC6 Twin Otter, BN2 Islander, Cessna 208 Caravan, and the Pilatus PC12.

The assessment is to include the following factors:

  • The performance characteristics of the aircraft using data from the manufacture and the Flight Manual
  • The load restrictions given the declared distances and physical characterises of John A. Osborne airport runway.
  • The resultant operating costs

The report should also clearly set out any recommendations with outline costings.

Montserrat’s access woes intensified during the December 2022 season when efforts to procure a ferry failed. It was further exacerbated by the abrupt cancellation of scheduled Winair flights as the airline failed to comply with requests from ASSI for safety assessments based on the UK air regulations.

Last week in Parliament, Opposition Member Donaldson Romeo tabled a motion for the appointment of an access committee to review Montserrat’s transportation issues. Currently, a Montserrat Air/Sea Access Petition is circulating to garner public support:

  1. To provide for safe, affordable, adequate, and reliable sea and air access before the 2023 St. Patrick’s season and beyond.
  2. To support the Resolution to conduct a public, fully transparent investigation of this access crisis and in doing so.
  3. Also, to look into the regulatory matters including safety concerns raised in recent months and years by passengers and other members of the public.

The island is currently serviced only by aircraft. Both Fly Montserrat and SVG/ABM Air have previously expressed that parts for their aged BN2 Islanders are limited. Neither airline can upgrade their aircraft without external and substantial investment.