Eighteen students from Guyana, Suriname and different islands of the Caribbean, including three members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), graduated from the Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical Engineering School, at the Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Service Limited (CAMS) Hangar in the Ogle Airport, on Wednesday last.
The best graduating student was Surinamese Roberto Macnack, who explained to Kaieteur News that he was relieved that the course had come to a close, and said that he was overjoyed to have performed so well. He added that he was planning to continue studying, with the hopes of becoming an Inspector.
Macnack, like the other Surinamese participating in the programme, entered at a slight disadvantage, since his first language is Dutch and the course was taught in English. However, he said that it was not entirely difficult, since in Suriname, they learn a little English when they are in school.
Chief Instructor, Bryan Latchman, explained that the real goal of the programme was to give young people the necessary skills to properly maintain and repair aircraft. He added that the programme is designed to allow the participants to pass the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) test.
The graduates have not yet taken this examination, but once they have successfully taken this test they will be full fledged engineers.
In January, the school will have an eight-week examination preparation class, free of charge, and will recap all of the work the students have done over the last three years.
The foreign participants will return to their own countries and take the equivalent examination there. With this in mind, the class is tailored to suit each country’s requirements. Latchman said that for the most part, each country’s examination is similar, with differences only in the regulation and the aviation laws.
He noted that a small number of participants do not complete the programme—approximately five percent, because of the rigorous selection process.
He added that there is a demand, all over the world, for aeronautical maintenance engineers, and said that many of the graduates from last year are now working all over the world— in the Middle East, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States of America, Canada and in different parts of the Caribbean.
Principal of the Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical Engineering School, Godfrey Rawlins, explained that the only advice he could offer the graduates is to work hard. He said that at present they need to prepare for their upcoming exams, and that the only thing which will successfully get them through their careers is hard work.
In an invited comment, Rawlins estimated that the pass rate for the licensing examination was between 50 and 60 percent. However, he noted that many persons use the programme to branch off into other areas of aviation.
“Not every participant will become engineers; some will go into piloting and management, some will use it as a stepping stone to branch off into other areas of aviation,” said Rawlins.
Also present at the graduation was Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who commended the participants on the successful completion of the programme. He noted that with their new skills and certified training, they now had the ability to compete on the International Market.
He added that it heartened him to see the development of Ogle Airport and the Aeronautical School.
In his closing address, Chairman of the Engineering School, Lieutenant Anthony Mekdeci (Ret’d), explained that over the years, the work the Aircraft Owners of Guyana (AGOG) has done with the Government of Guyana has not always been seamless and easy, but he said, “for the most part it has been very successful.”
He added that the AGOG had assisted the Government through the provision of domestic passenger services, maintenance of interior airstrips, search and rescue missions, airport operations and training, as well as in areas of regulation and safety of operations.
Lt. Mekdeci also spoke of the impending development of the Ogle Airport, saying that the second phase of that programme would materialize in early 2009.
This second phase will bring the airport up to regional/international airport status in approximately two years, and will enable the airport to accommodate air traffic from the Caribbean and neighbouring countries, he added.
The AGOG, said Lt Mekdeci, is also actively engaged in putting together a training programme for pilots. The programme will apparently take the pilots to commercial pilot’s license level. The school is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean and is operated by AGOG.
The Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical Engineering School, since its founding in 1991, has graduated approximately 100 fully licensed engineers to meet the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority.
At present, the school is certified and approved by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, the Regional Aviation Safety Oversight System of CARICOM, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Suriname.
Added to this, it is expected that the school will soon receive certification from the Civil Aviation Authorities of OCES and Trinidad and Tobago. The intake of students for next year is 59.
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