By Jarryl Bryan
On Thursday officials from Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) and the Correia Group of Companies gathered at the Ogle International Airport, TGA hangar for the commissioning of a new Raytheon Beechcraft 1900D aircraft. Trans Guyana will use the aircraft for day and night international charters and for its Lethem services.
Present at the occasion was President David Granger; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and other Government officials. During the auspicious event Granger laid out his administration’s action plan for the aviation sector.
And in turn, CEO of Trans Guyana Airways Michael Correia Jr. called the Government’s attention to the shortcomings of the local aviation sector when compared to aviation sectors throughout the Caribbean, including the fact that Guyana’s aviation sector is operating below the standards of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
“We are rated as a Category Two country, when our CARICOM neighbours are all Category One countries. This state of affairs has existed for far too long. It must be urgently addressed. Failure to do so will continue to retard the development of Guyana’s Air Operators Certificate (AOC), regional and international aircraft operations,” Correia said.
He also noted that the regulatory authority, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) was shown to be operating below the international standards for regulatory bodies, something that was highlighted by a recent International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit. This is against the backdrop of Guyana having not only complex aircrafts but also extremely challenging terrain.
The ICAO was created in1944 and works with the Convention on International Civil Aviation’s 191 member states and aviation organizations from around the world, in order to develop International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). These regulations are usually referenced by countries when they are developing their own regulations.
However, the Government side did highlight changes in its approach to aviation including allocations from the national budget that are projected to lift Guyana’s aviation standards to a more compliant level.
The President revealed several targets including; ensuring independent aircraft accident investigations, enhancing the capability of the GCAA, expanding the hinterland aerodrome rehabilitation programme and establishing a permanent national ‘search and rescue’ agency.
The President committed to boosting the institutional and technological capacity of the GCAA, for greater aeronautical surveillance, as well as to enforce rigorous safety and security standards.
Granger also highlighted that the upgrading of hinterland airstrips would be a focus of the administration, something that would help eradicate mishaps during the landing of aircrafts.
Granger also paid tribute to Eugene Francis Correia, a pioneer in the local aviation sector. Correia, formerly a prospector, was later elected a member of the Legislative Assembly and became the first Minister of Communication, Shipping and Civil Aviation in Guyana’s first post-independence government.
He thus urged the Director of Ogle International Airport Incorporated, to rename the facility the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, who is the subject minister on aviation matters, also pledged his support to the aviation sector, noting how important the sector is to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of developing countries.
The Minister also noted that a large Budgetary allocation has been made for improving Guyana’s ICAO compliance, a move towards attaining Federal Aviation Administration Category One status, as so many of Guyana’s neighbours have already done.
Patterson also spoke of the rehabilitation of hinterland airstrips and new equipment for Air Traffic Control, while pledging that further provisions will be made in the 2016 budget for development of the sector.
The new 19-seat aircraft, which is pressurized and has a twin turboprop engine and fixed wings, is expected to be available for both day and night international charters and its Lethem services from October 1st. According to projections from the company, it will reduce the present Cessna Caravan flight time to Lethem from one and a half hours to 55 minutes.
TGA is also looking at providing international connecting flights direct to Boa Vista Airport in the future.
Night operations at Ogle International Airport are also on the cards. As of Wednesday, it was announced, the airport will be opened up to 11pm every night to accommodate LIAT’s daily Trinidad flights.
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