Contradictory clarifications by officials on suspicious US flight

Contradictory clarifications by officials on suspicious US flight

Written by Staff Writer

14 Jul, 2019 | 9:28 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): The Ministry of Defence in a letter confirmed that the US aircraft that landed at the Katunayake International Airport had been granted full clearance to enter the country.

According to the letter the aircraft landed at the BIA to obtain good and services needed for the flight while travelling on their designated path. There are a number of contradictions in this letter sent to us by the Ministry of Defence. The first is the use of the phrase “while travelling on their designated path” When the flight path of the aircraft was examined it was revealed that the aircraft had travelled to Bahrain from Frankfurt, Germany on the 11th of this month.

Following which they had travelled to Sri Lanka on the same day after flying for five hours. Subsequently, the flight had left the BIA and travelled to the Fujairah Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

However, the travel time from Bahrain to Fujairah is just one hour, while the travel time from Bahrain to Sri Lanka is 5 hours. Therefore the argument that the flight had landed in Sri Lanka “while travelling on their designated path” does not stand.

The letter forwarded by the Ministry of Defence based on information from the Civil Aviation Authority states that the aircraft landed at BIA to obtain good and services needed for the flight. However, when we inquired from the Civil Aviation Authority yesterday, the authority said that the flight was transporting a consignment of apparels.

When we brought this to the attention of the Director of the Media centre of the Ministry of Defence Brigadier Sumith Atapattu, he admitted that the information provided in the letter is contradictory.

Although the letter sent by the Ministry of Defence confirms that the flight had provided the necessary details before landing in the country, when we contacted the officials at the BIA on the day the flight landed in the country, the officials only confirmed that the flight had landed at the airport and said that they do not possess any information on the cargo inside the aircraft. On the specific day, SriLankan Airlines, the company handling ground operations at the BIA was not aware of any details regarding the aircraft.

The McDonnell Douglas 11 aircraft belonging to the Western Global Airline, a cargo carrier, reached the Bandaranaike International Airport at 3:47 am on the 12th of this month. Made in the USA, it is a large-cargo aircraft capable of flying long distances. When observing the flight patterns of this Aircraft WGN 1710, it was clear that this aircraft had earlier flown to US bases in several countries in recent days. The aircraft has recently flown to Qatar air base on the 05th of July and Catania air base in Italy on the 02nd of July.

In addition, the aircraft had also flown mostly to US bases or military installations in other cities in the recent past. Western Global Airlines is a member of the US Department of Defense Civil Reserve Airlift Fleet which provides augmentation to DOD airlift requirements. Therefore, it is doubtful whether the aircraft was a cargo carrier for US troops under the ACSA Agreement.

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