Inquiry launched into Derry Airport closure

Aviation experts were commissioned today to undertake an independent review into the circumstances surrounding the closure of City of Derry Airport when the Civil Aviation Authority suspended its licence amid safety fears.

The airport was shut down for four days until Tuesday last week after the CAA ordered its closure following an inspection.

It was a major embarrassment for the council when the CAA ordered the closure of the airport ahead of the recent bank holiday weekend following an audit of safety standards.

The airport is an important regional hub connecting the north west of Ireland - both sides of the border – with Dublin and the UK.

After a frantic four days of activity the airport was allowed to reopen for business after unsatisfactory repairs to an aircraft parking area and the lack of an effective bird control plan were put right by contractors – work which included placing netting over ponds and culverts in the airport precincts.

The council said Airport Solutions Ltd, UK, would begin a review next week and were expected to report within two weeks.

A spokesman said: “This will provide a factual account and enable the public to take an informed view of the sequence of events and how the council responded.

“Our focus during the closure was to reopen the airport as soon as possible. This was achieved in four days and full business has resumed.

“This is a positive step for passenger confidence and we want to build upon this through providing an open and accessible account of what took place. The airport is a valued asset for the region.”

The council said the investigation would examine events and circumstances that led to the temporary suspension of the CAA airport licence and examine the council’s response to the suspension.

It said the review should specifically focus on the CAA conditions for the granting of an aerodrome licence. The conditions relate to:

:: Competency with regard to experience, equipment, organisation, staffing, maintenance and other arrangements to secure that the aerodrome and the airspace within which its visual traffic pattern is normally contained are safe for use by aircraft.

:: The aerodrome is safe for use by aircraft, having regard in particular to the physical characteristics of the aerodrome and its surroundings.

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