Barbados Air Traffic Services is taking its product to higher heights.

The unit, effective this month, became the first one within the English-speaking Caribbean, and one of the few Government agencies in Barbados, to receive ISO 9001:2008 certification.

According to Director of Civil Aviation, Anthony Archer, the designation demonstrates, in part, that the department, which falls under the aegis of the Civil Aviation Department, is operating a well-run and professional outfit, in keeping with international standards. He noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (CIAO) has recommended that all Air Traffic Services should seek to acquire this designation.     

In  giving  details of the process, Air Traffic Services Inspector, David Broomes, said the Quality Assurance Programme emanated  from ICAO requirements that, in the interest of safety, Air Traffic Services worldwide should implement programmes including documented  procedures for controllers; methods for inspection and testing; monitoring of equipment operations and  internal audits.

“As you know, by the very nature of the work in Air Traffic Services, the window for error is very, very small. So we need to put [measures] in place to monitor the system and implement corrective actions,” he explained.

Mr. Broomes noted that the programme initially started in late 2006, but was interrupted by preparations for Cricket World Cup (CWC). He added that, however, after CWC, they “went full steam ahead” to the extent of hiring a management consultant to assist in the preparation.

“We were successful in the programme. As a consequence, we put in place a whole system of policy documents. We are also doing things like tracking performance levels. We also have a management system in place that can account for the performance of each individual staff member;” he said.

The Air Traffic Supervisor noted that regulations were also in place for the investigation of all incidents, whether minor or major, as well as for gauging the overall quality of service provided.

“It is all with the aim of providing a quality, as well as a safe service, to our customers who would be aircraft operators as well as the travelling public. In our fields we are gate keepers for a very important area in the economy of Barbados – we cannot really afford to have any major incidents,” he surmised.

“The designation basically provides customer reassurance that management is committed to providing a quality service, with monitoring at every phase,” Mr. Broomes underlined, noting that a system of checks and balances was critical.

In terms of follow-through, the Air Traffic Services official pointed out that one year after the initial certification and audit; companies were expected to demonstrate that quality assurance procedures were still being followed.

“We got our certification in March, so in January or February [next year], we will have to show that we do the internal audits as well as the quarterly reviews of our system, and that we have the paperwork in place to demonstrate that we are engaging the quality assurance systems,” he noted.

On the internal level, Mr. Broomes said the new system fostered transparency as well as a positive work ethic.

“I can say that we have been seeing results since the programme started in October. We are seeing people taking greater pride in the way they work, and in the quality of their work. So there is a whole change in the organisational culture,” Mr. Broomes said.

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