Air Traffic Controllers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this week. began participating in a refresher course in preparation for the operation of Argyle International Airport by year-end.
Dillet Davis, senior airport officer, told a ceremony on Monday that three batches of controllers will receive a week-long refresher training in the theories governing the provision of air traffic services.
The course will run until Oct. 9 and is being facilitated by the Civil Aviation Training Centre in Trinidad.
Davis told the ceremony at Argyle International Airport that the course is being undertaken at a most opportune time as the government is going to commence operations at Argyle.
It is part of a series of training programme for air traffic control personnel sponsored by the state-owned International Airport Development Company (IADC), which is responsible for construction of the airport.
There will be training for senior air traffic controllers in the area of supervisor training, on-the-job training methods and a practical in air traffic control service will be held in Trinidad from Oct. 13 to 29, Davis said.
“This training course will refresh participants on the standard recommended practices and local procedures pertaining to the three basic functions of air traffic service, namely, air traffic control service, flight information service and alerting service.
“It will focus on key areas such as separation minima and emergency procedures and safety management systems,” Davis said.
He told participants and airport management officials that the importance of training programmes not only for air traffic controllers but also for the entire aviation community cannot be underestimated.
“Training will attempt to ensure that employees have the theoretical tools to carry out a function. They will gain knowledge of the required standards and procedures and how these standards are applied, thus helping to eliminate the potential risk of accidents and incidents occurring. This will result potentially in higher safety standard,” Davis said.
Cary Price, chief instructor, Trinidad Civil Aviation Training Centre, said the real success of the training programme cannot be measured over the next few weeks.
“The real success of this programme can only be measured when you all go into the operations. So what I want to leave you with is that any programme that you ever do, the most important thing … is taking the skills and knowledge that you learn in that training and putting it into practice in your operations.
“And the purpose of that is to help develop and to improve the level of efficiency, the level of safety of your organisation,” Price told participants.
And, chief executive officer of the IADC, Rudy Matthias said the training is just one among a whole plethora of things that have to be done to get the airport ready for operations.
“I consider today, though, an important part of the process of getting ourselves ready for operations before the end of this year. This is part of the management system for the operation of Argyle International Airport.”
Matthias said the airport is a modern facility for all Vincentians but he suspects that the air traffic control personnel will enjoy it a little more than other users.
He said that Canadian Company, Aeronav will return to St. Vincent by mid-October to install the computers and other equipment in the control tower.
“So that after you have finished this refresher training course, you can feel free to come into your control tower cabin and start familiarising yourself with what is there, because we want you to be adept at what you do. The safety of the airport operation is critical,” Matthias said.
“I want you also to feel that this is your stuff, this is your thing, so you must come and take ownership of it,” Matthias, said, adding that hopefully by the end of November, air traffic controllers will know the airport like the back of their hands.
He said the IADC is building, near the control tower, the facility for the Director of Airports, Corsel Robertson, and her staff and expects that it will be ready for occupation by the mid-October.
“So soon, pretty soon you will have the opportunity, if you so desire to come out here, to start moving your equipment, whatever furniture you want to move out and start behaving as though you are getting ready, because the thing is going to be ready. It is going to be ready,” Matthias said.
Robertson also addressed the ceremony on Monday.