Cayman Islands Helicopters wins helipad appeal

 - May 4, 2014, 1:25 AM
Cayman Islands Helicopters hopes to begin using its cruise ship terminal helipad again soon.

The civil aviation authority of the Cayman Islands (a branch of the British CAA) and Cayman Islands Helicopters have won their appeal against a previous justice decision that forced the sightseeing flight operator to suspend operations from a helipad conveniently located near a cruise-ship terminal in George Town. As of April 8, the CAA still had to validate the certificate again, almost one year after it had been suspended.

In granting an aerodrome certificate to the helipad, “the CAA did not at any stage act unreasonably,” the court of appeals judgment reads. Axis, a local business, had raised nuisance and safety concerns to challenge the validity of the certificate.

The original ruling cited acoustic nuisance and concluded that it was “manifestly unreasonable of the CAA not to have regard to the impact of nuisance upon adjacent properties,” namely Axis, which was complaining about noise and vibration. But the court of appeal agreed with the CAA that this was outside its remit and rather an issue for the Central Planning Authority. “The CAA was not required to take account of nuisance in deciding whether to grant a certificate,” it said.

In addition to concerns about noise, Axis also raised safety concerns: that the approach path is not free of obstacles, part of the safety area is over the sea, and no limitations are imposed for operating with tailwinds in excess of 17 knots.

The court of appeal did acknowledge there were errors in the manual Cayman Helicopters provided to the CAA. However, it dismissed all the safety concerns. While acknowledging that imposing a limit on takeoff in a tailwind has to be regarded as important, it also said that such an omission can be corrected easily by a revision of the manual. Therefore, “it would not require the setting aside of the certificate,” the judgment reads.