The Art Williams and Harry Wendt aeronautical engineering school at the Ogle Airport could soon be recognized as an approved civil aviation training organisation by the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (T&TCAA).
The school, which has churned out over 200 students since its establishment, 90 of whom have become fully qualified in the field, held its 13th graduation and induction ceremony at its base at the Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Services (CAMS) hangar at Ogle yesterday.
Guest speaker at the event, Director General of the T&TCAA Ramesh Lutchmedial told the gathering, which included President Donald Ramotar, Transport Minister Robeson Benn and top officials in the aviation sector here, that the institution has a growing reputation in the Caribbean and further afield, stressing its importance to the local sector.
He said that aviation remains one of the most important and growing industries in the world and he noted that it is important that the region provide training of a high quality in order to produce fully qualified aviation professionals. He said that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held two seminars recently and according to him, the deliberations and discussions led to the recognition of a forecasted gap in personnel, which he considered serious, in the aviation industry worldwide.
In this regard, Lutchmedial said that it is of great importance that the players in the sector in the Caribbean collaborate in providing “world class training” to the benefit of the region. He said that the ultimate goal of the aviation sector in the region is to create free movement of aviation professionals. He said that at the moment any Caricom national can work in the Twin-Island republic and obtain an air operator’s certificate and subsequently work in the sector there. He expressed hope that the same will occur in other Caricom nations.
Lutchmedial said that the T&TCAA, under his watch, will give “serious consideration” to the Ogle-based engineering school being certified as an approved training organisation. He said too that the T&TCAA is also offering three masters programme through a partnership with City University of the United Kingdom in the areas of air transport management, air safety management and aircraft maintenance management. He said that one does not have to hold a degree to qualify for the programme. He told the graduates that they are the future leaders of aviation in the region and so the programmes will be beneficial to their careers.
Ramotar, who gave the feature address, noted that the aviation industry is important to the economy, and he added that it has and will continue to develop and simultaneously contribute towards the progress of the country. He identified the mining and tourism sectors as two areas of the economy which are directly related to the aviation industry, noting that the three inter-lock in terms of their dependence on each other.
He said too that the airport has played a key role in the industry’s growing potential, noting that there has been a large increase in passenger and cargo movement through the municipal airport this year as compared to the same period last year. He said that soon, Ogle will be one of the busiest airports in the region, with expansion works there nearing completion.
He told the graduates that a long and rewarding career awaits them, and he congratulated the founders and operators of the institution on the occasion, noting that persons in the other sectors of the economy should follow their example and “add more skills to develop the country’s economy”.
Captain Gregory Fox, of the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS), noted that the school is a model for the region. He expressed satisfaction at the level of competence of those who have been trained at the school.
Yesterday, some 20 students graduated from the school while students currently pursuing studies were also recognized for their performances. The engineering school is operated by the Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana Inc and is certified by the GCAA, CASSOS and the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.
According to a release from the institution, it has been audited by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority and found acceptable for certification in the British Overseas Territories. The institution is also ISO certified.