GCAA in need of more man­power to keep up with avi­a­tion sec­tor’s growth


Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

The Guyana Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (GCAA) has in­creased its sur­veil­lance at the two lo­cal in­ter­na­tional air­ports but there is need for more man­power to bet­ter mon­i­tor in­te­rior lo­ca­tions and pre­pare for the ex­pected growth of the avi­a­tion sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Colonel (Ret’d) Eg­bert Field.

In the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, Field said that some 20 to 25 large he­li­copters will be fly­ing from shore to rig and rig to shore as a re­quire­ment for the start-up pro­duc­tion phase of the de­vel­op­ing oil and gas sec­tor.

“That in­creases the avi­a­tion ac­tiv­ity thus the au­thor­ity will be faced not only with mon­i­tor­ing but also en­sur­ing that the avi­a­tion in­dus­try re­mains as safe as it can be, which is equal to zero ac­ci­dent,” he told Sun­day Stabroek dur­ing an in­ter­view.

In ad­di­tion to man­power needed for sur­veil­lance to mon­i­tor the he­li­copters, he said there will be more air­craft op­er­a­tors com­ing in to run the he­li­copters.

“Al­ready, we have been vis­ited by com­pa­nies from as far as Malaysia, the USA and France. They want to come to Guyana to op­er­ate he­li­copters that will fly to and from the rigs,” he noted.

“We still need to in­crease our sur­veil­lance in the in­te­rior ar­eas. We are con­duct­ing some, though not to the ex­tent re­quired due to man­power short­age. We need to beef up that area,” he con­tin­ued.

If the GCAA has to do de­tailed sur­veil­lance, he said, it would have to put in­spec­tors on a reg­u­lar ba­sis in out­ly­ing ar­eas.

The shut­tle op­er­a­tion, he noted, falls un­der the GCAA’s sur­veil­lance pro­gramme.

Last year, he said, was a bad year for the shut­tles as three light air­crafts crashed and two pilots were killed.

Fol­low­ing the crashes, all shut­tle op­er­a­tions were sus­pended. The sus­pen­sion was lifted, Field said, be­cause the op­er­a­tors have com­plied with the re­quire­ment of sub­mit­ting their op­er­at­ing man­u­als for ap­proval to con­duct op­er­a­tions.

At present, he said, the lo­cal avi­a­tion in­dus­try is faced with a num­ber of chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the need for a welle­quipped hu­man re­source base that will keep abreast with the fast pace of de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try.

“The staff is work­ing ex­tremely hard to en­sure we meet with the chal­lenges which are nu­mer­ous for this au­thor­ity,” he said.

An­other of the main chal­lenges, he added, is the in­crease in the do­mes­tic op­er­a­tions in the in­te­rior due to the ex­pan­sion in the gold and di­a­mond min­ing sec­tor.

“As the gold price in­creases, air­craft own­ers want to bring more air­craft to ser­vice the in­te­rior. My staff is chal­lenged,” he said.

An­other is the chal­lenges that will come with the ex­pan­sion of the Cheddi Ja­gan In­ter­na­tional Air­port and the ex­ten­sion of the run­way at a time when the en­ergy sec­tor is set to take off. As a re­sult, there will be more traf­fic com­ing from tra­di­tional des­ti­na­tions and non-tra­di­tional des­ti­na­tions, he said.

“I nor­mally liken it to a tsunami com­ing to­wards the avi­a­tion in­dus­try of Guyana. Un­less we build that hill to counter the tsunami as rapidly as pos­si­ble in a safe fash­ion, that tsunami could come and swamp is,” he noted.

Nev­er­the­less, Field said, he was con­fi­dent that given the ex­pe­ri­ence and the ca­pa­bil­ity of the staff and with his knowl­edge of the reg­u­la­tory area, they would be able to sur­mount the fore­see­able chal­lenges.

For the first time in its his­tory, the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ICAO) will host its trans­port con­fer­ence in Guyana from Novem­ber 19th to Novem­ber 23rd this year, which Field said shows come con­fi­dence in Guyana.

The Pres­i­dent of ICAO, whom he met in Nige­ria last year, he ex­plained, noted he was keep­ing his eye on the avi­a­tion in­dus­try in Guyana.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Field said, a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional play­ers in the in­dus­try, in­clud­ing from the US and UK, have ex­pressed their in­ter­est. This in­cludes The Boe­ing Com­pany, which has vis­ited with the GCAA.

Eg­bert Field

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