Substantial funding and energies are directed to flight safety by the United States Air Force Southern Command as part of its efforts to maintain the security of flights and crew members.
Lieutenant Robert Weaver, who has been in the US Air Force for a number of years, has for the past 15 years, worked directly in the area of flight safety.
Since Sunday last he came as part of a crew that is here to participate in an exchange programme with local aeronautical engineers.
The arrival of the Air Force team represents the second iteration of the US Air Force Programme “Operation Southern Partner” which has been introduced in seven Caribbean and Latin American nations.
A total of about 60 Airmen have been dispatched to Guyana, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Belize, as part of the exchange effort.
In relation to the operation, Lieutenant Weaver said that he has spent time with local engineers, from the local aeronautical schools at Ogle and at the Guyana Defence Force Air Corps, discussing maintenance concerns and safety issues.
Lieutenant Weaver observed that although local pilots fly different aircraft when compared to the US they face similar challenges when it comes to flight safety.
He said that he spoke of the US Air Force Flight Safety office, adding that while Guyana does not have such an office it has a similar system which has a different approach, but one that sees the same problems as the US.
“In our discussions we talked a lot about foreign object damage to aircraft from rocks and metal on the ground and we even talked about mid-air collision avoidance. There was also discussion about managing wildlife on our airfields. We suffer from bird strikes and they can damage our aircraft and from what I hear folks here face a similar challenge.”
Lieutenant Weaver noted that this is his first trip to Guyana, while pointing out that the exchange programme is an innovative measure the US has employed so that it could share and learn from partner nations.
“I was anxious to talk with some of the local pilots because the flying here is different to the flying I have done in my entire career. We have different machines so looking at how the pilots here are able to handle it is very interesting.”
And among the worse flight challenges Lieutenant Weaver listed was the loss of an airplane by way of a crash.
For this reason, he disclosed, the US Air Force has organised boards of officers to look into any wreckage and to interview crew and witnesses to find out what went wrong and how to avoid another such situation.
“We lose planes quite often and that is something that we focus a lot of time and effort into so that we can identify the cause of the crash. And we have found this to be very good use of our money and time so we don’t repeat mistakes of the past.”
The exchange programme will also see information on medical response being shared with the US team offering training, said Kevin Walston, Public Affairs Officer.
He disclosed that Guyana had requested the medical training which includes the treatment of blast injuries, first responder training and surgical techniques.
And according to Walston, there are some medical equipment needs that Guyana has, particularly modern apparatus.
“One of the principal reasons is because a lot of hospitals do not have the updated equipment. From the experiences that the US military has had in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where they didn’t have the updated equipment, we are able to treat blast injuries and serious injuries there in an exchange of information. Some of the information that has been passed on will benefit the folks that work in the local hospitals because where you don’t have the updated equipment they are now hearing of new techniques that will help them to treat injuries even when they don’t have the equipment,” Walston noted.
The US team is scheduled to leave Guyana at the end of this week.
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