Minister of International Transport, George Hutson. (Image: www.dlpbarbados.org)
A call has been made for consideration to be given to the establishment of a Civil Aviation Authority.
It has come from Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, who believes that such a body would improve the structure of Government’s Civil Aviation Department, as well as provide greater access to training opportunities.
Minister Hutson was speaking during the opening ceremony for an Aeronautical Information Services Course, where 16 young persons, including two females, were preparing to embark on the intensive 18 to 24 month programme. If successfully completed, it will lead to them being trained as air traffic control officers.
This cadre of cadets will bring to 26 the full complement of trainees from Barbados and other parts of the region, including Haiti and St. Kitts, currently attending the Barbados Civil Aviation Training Centre.
“In this environment the need for continuing professional education and development is important. Employers must ensure that they provide the opportunities for continued professional development of their staff. Government is, therefore, committed to ensuring that the best possible service is provided by the Air Traffic Services and to this end, Safety Management Systems and Quality Assurance Programmers have been instituted,” the Minister underlined.
In this regard, the International Transport Minister indicated that last month Air Traffic Services successfully negotiated an ISO 9001 audit, and had been recommended for the award of ISO 9000: 2008 accreditations, thus taking air traffic services here to international standards.
Noting that the training centre was part of a plan to have a self-sufficient and credible regional aviation training institute, capable of satisfying a significant portion of the region’s training needs, Minister Hutson said the demand for local and regional training had steadily increased over the years due to developments within the industry.
Prior to 1973, he explained, Air Traffic Control staff received training either in the United Kingdom or in Trinidad. He added that the high cost of training; limited availability of places, and the inability of Air Traffic Services Management to release more than one or two persons for training at any one time had resulted in a large backlog.
“The training centre is receiving monthly requests for training, but unfortunately, all cannot be accommodated,” he revealed.
The Air Traffic Control Officer training programme comprises four modules, which include a period of practical training and assessment. The practical component entails the use of ultra-modern simulators mirroring actual tower conditions in different weather conditions. The pass mark in theoretical subjects is 70 percent and persons who fall below this market ant stage will fail the course entirely.
The Minister urged the trainees to see themselves as professionals and to strive to maintain high standards of discipline, deportment and excellence, which were the necessary attributes of a good civil aviation officer.