The Antigua-headquartered Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) is consulting closely with the FAA over a request by charter operator One Caribbean to put a 21-year-old Boeing 747-400 on the register of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
The 747-400 was originally operated by Taiwan’s China Air Lines but went into storage at Victorville, California, in October 2017 with the U.S. registration N508BB. Soon after One Caribbean flew it to Saint Vincent’s Argyle International Airport on May 24, the aircraft’s owners asked ECCAA to re-register the aircraft. One Caribbean already holds an aircraft operator's certificate (AOC) awarded by ECCAA, but until it took delivery of the PW4056-powered 747 it operated just one aircraft, an SVG-registered Beech 1900D, on private-charter work.
Capt. Paul Delisle, ECCAA’s flight operations inspector, confirmed to AIN at the Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference in St. Maarten in mid-June that “the foreign owners” of the 747 were “desirous of putting it on a Saint Vincent AOC.” The aircraft was “physically in Saint Vincent, [was] presently being de-registered and they have applied to put it on the SVG register,” he said.
However, the request to certify the 747-400 was a big step for ECCAA, Delisle said. He noted that, as the airworthiness regulator for six member nations of the English-language Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and SVG), ECCAA today has oversight of six AOCs, 14 airports and just 41 aircraft. Six are helicopters—but none of the aircraft is a large commercial jet.
Delisle said ECCAA is taking a two-step approach to re-registering the One Caribbean 747-400. First, “We are discussing the whole plan with the FAA,” which originally awarded the Boeing 747-400 its type certification, he said. “We want concurrence” with the FAA on all matters relating to N508BB’s potential SVG certification.
One reason is that, 21 years ago, ECCAA’s predecessor certified a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 for the Antigua and Barbuda registry, for a company called Skyjet. However, according to Delisle, the aircraft actually was based in Belgium, from where it was leased to various carriers throughout the world. The FAA took such a dim view of the situation that in 2002 it removed the Eastern Caribbean regulator from its list of approved Category 1 airworthiness authorities. “We had to stop that [Belgium-based] operation to get Category 1 categorization” back, said Delisle. “It’s a sensitive subject.”
Of necessity, ECCAA’s second step is to ensure that suitably trained inspectors are in place to certify the 747-400 properly. According to Delisle, ECCAA has three choices: to give existing staff additional training; to employ additional, fully trained inspectors; or to lease inspectors from another regulator. However, Delisle added that ECCAA is planning to train at least one inspector for 747-400 certification and that it already numbers among its staff a former 747-400 pilot.
Meanwhile, speculation surrounds the 747-400’s unusual move to Saint Vincent. Several Caribbean media outlets report that One Caribbean is planning to operate the passenger-configured 747-400 nonstop between Saint Vincent and Dubai.