17/06/2010

CAA Flies Into Roof Tile Row

The specialist aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is about to begin a probe into an incident of alleged damage to private houses by low-flying aircraft bound for the George Best Belfast City Airport.

It happened at Parkgate Drive around 10pm last Tuesday, with both the relevant householders - Don Melrose and Natasha McCready - saying this morning that the CAA is to follow up their request for a probe.

Both Mr Melrose and Ms McCready believe the aircraft was almost certainly flying unusually low, although this has been denied by George Best Belfast City Airport.

Mr Melrose was slightly injured by a flying roof slate during the incident in which roof tiles from both houses fell to the ground, leaving gaping holes in both roofs.

Welcoming the news, Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group said: "We welcome the fact that this incident will now be independently investigated by the appropriate expert body.

"However, this was the third such incident in the Parkgate area within the past nine months, and many residents in the area are now very concerned about their safety.
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"We are still calling on either the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, or the Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy, to commission a wider investigation by the CAA," she continued.

"Such a review could properly examine how any further such incidents could be avoided in future, and what measures the airport might take to reduce the level of risk for residents who live close by.

"Despite the fact that both their respective departments have denied any responsibility for safety, we're told by the CAA that either Minister could invite it to carry out such an inquiry.

"Residents in the Parkgate area and elsewhere in east Belfast have been very alarmed by these incidents. They want politicians to take constructive action on this issue, rather than asserting that they are powerless to do anything," she concluded.

A spokeswoman from the CAA told 4ni.co.uk: "Following reports of roof-tile damage to houses in the vicinity of George Best Belfast City Airport, the CAA's Safety Data Department is undertaking a routine wake vortex investigation in order to determine the cause of these incidents."

However, she also added: "It is too early to tell what the cause of these incidents is."

See: Slates Tumble As Plane Lands

(BMcC/GK)

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