Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) Board of Directors Lawrence London yesterday urged the 23rd Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System’s (CASSOS) Board of Directors Meeting to look at potentially establishing an aviation accreditation body as a means of developing the industry in the region.
London, who was speaking at opening of the two-day meeting in Georgetown, noted that while the Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) has addressed some of the issues surrounding the situation, he believes more could be done.
“I am wondering if the time is not right for the Caribbean Community to have its own civil aviation authority where all the Caribbean states will issue licences to say you are a Caribbean Aviation Authority engineer or pilot even though that licence would have been issued by one of the states,” London said.
“I don’t want to know that a Canadian aircraft can come to operate in this industry—in Guyana that is about to boom because of our oil and gas—but the pilot or engineer can’t get a job on that aircraft because he or she has to go to Canada to be re-trained and re- certified before he is accepted on that aircraft. I am challenging the author of MASA to maybe look again to see how much further we can take it. Here in the Caribbean, we have some of the best minds sitting around that table to deal with aviation matters; why not take it to the next step? CASSOS has the mandate of harmonization or sharing resources and training; how much effort or how much attention is needed to move our training to the point where we can be accredited by everybody else in the world and our licences are accepted?” the Chairman asked.
Head of CASSOS and Director General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority Nari Williams-Singh, who also spoke at the opening, said that such meetings provide a platform for those in the aviation sector to meet face to face and discuss shortcomings and long term plans while also providing the opportunity to meet stakeholders and other professionals in the aviation sector.
He also took the opportunity to congratulate Guyana on its significant improvement in the effective implementation of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and receiving the ICAO Council President Award.
“I daresay that that achievement is certainly a significant one in the cap of the GCAA but it also demonstrated the CASSOS initiative at work. There was some sharing of resources from other member states who supported Guyana…,” Williams-Singh added.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson, who holds responsibility for the aviation sector, acknowledged CASSOS’ contribution towards the development of member countries within the aviation sector through the sharing of technical expertise.
“You will agree with me that things are indeed changing in the aviation sector and this is being done rapidly. This particular body is also evolving. In the Caribbean, like most parts of the world, there is a shortage of technical skills and therefore our unified approach in CARICOM through CASSOS gives countries with limited human resources an avenue to access key technical expertise to keep the aviation sector safe and secure and this I believe is highly commendable,” the minister said.
Ferguson said she just returned from Caribbean Aviation Day, which was held in Barbados, and noted that the outlook for the region’s aviation sector was bleak. “…However, with the work of CASSOS there is hope for this region. In Guyana, we are setting the stage for a robust aviation sector, one that plays a vital role in national sustainable development of our country. Aviation is indeed vital to our region’s survival and so too is the work of CASSOS,” she added.
She also made reference to the Civil Aviation Bill, which is currently before a Parliamentary Select Committee, and she said it is expected to be passed before the end of 2018. “We are including in that legislation, provisions to give authority to CASSOS inspectors to carry out their work unhindered in Guyana,” Ferguson added.
The CASSOS Board of Directors meeting is expected to see the participation of 20 plus agencies and member states and discussions are to focus on building collaborative capacity.