By Steve Thomas

Observer Nevis Editor

(Newcastle, Nevis) – A failed part on the large fire truck at the Nevis airport has halted flight service by American Eagle, but flight service by smaller carriers continues.

No date has been announced for the resumption of Eagle’s flights, which were halted on the afternoon of Jan. 26. American early flight that day took off from Nevis.

Passengers wanting to fly American can check in at Amory International Airport, but they have to take the ferry to St. Kitts and fly out of the airport there, according to the airline.

The airport is normally rated as a Category 5 facility, which means it meets safety requirements to handle the ATR-72 aircraft flown by American Eagle. The ATR-72 accommodates 50-60 passengers.

With the large fire truck not operating, the airport is reclassified as a Category 3 facility, which means it has the emergency equipment available to handle smaller planes, like those operated by Winair and Liat.

Spencer Hanley, general manager of the Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority, issued the following statement detailing efforts to repair the fire truck:

“[At] approximately 3:30 pm on Saturday January 26th, the big fire truck at the airport became inoperable. By Monday the problem was diagnosed as a faulty converter. Nevis Air and Sea Ports Authority then contacted its authorized dealer located in Wisconsin, USA to obtain a new converter. At about 4:15 pm on Monday (Nevis time) the dealer in Wisconsin advised that they don’t sell a complete converter, and that we’ll have to identify the specific part within the converter. [Please note that the time zone in Wisconsin is two hours behind Nevis].

“On Tuesday morning we then began the difficult task of removing the converter in order to identify the defective part. Later that day, Wisconsin advised that we should send the complete transmission instead. We inquired if they can source a new or rebuilt transmission in the interim to send to us while the one in Nevis is being shipped for repairs. That’s when they told us that the manufacturer no longer makes that particular transmission. Hence, the only option is to repair/rebuild the existing transmission.

“On Wednesday we finally disconnected the transmission, but needed a crane to lift the truck in order to remove the 1,200 lb item from beneath the truck. At approximately 3:00 pm on Wednesday the crane arrived and we were finally able to safely remove the transmission.

“On Thursday we identified an authorized dealer in Miami, crated the transmission, and transported it to St. Kitts in preparation for shipment to Miami on Friday. The dealer in Miami was made aware of the crisis, and has given a commitment to do all in its power to complete the process by Tuesday February 5th, in order to have it back in St. Kitts on Amerijet by Wednesday February 6th.”