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Henry exploring options to prevent another airspace shutdown after lightning strike

Published:Monday | September 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Mike Henry ... strategies including installing lightning arresters at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre are now being explored.

Transport Minister Mike Henry says he will be looking into measures to prevent another lightning strike resulting in a shut down of Jamaica's airspace.

Access to the island’s airspace has been intermittent since Friday after lightning struck the radar and communication systems at the Control Centre, shutting down the airspace.

Henry says strategies including installing lightning arresters at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre are now being explored.

A lightning arrester is a device used to protect telecommunications systems from being damaged by lightning.

Friday's lightning strike destroyed the voice control switch that monitors the air to ground voice communications as well as the air traffic management computer systems.

A backup system is currently being used to provide limited services while repairs remain underway.

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) says air traffic in Jamaica's airspace is only being allowed between 7 o'clock in the mornings and 7 o'clock in the evenings.

The transport minister met Sunday with key stakeholders in the industry, including the JCAA the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association and Aerotel Communications Limited.

Speaking with JIS News after the meeting, Henry said everything is being done to ensure that flights in and out of the island return to normal in the shortest possible time.

Henry said the issue was compounded by the fact that the neighbouring air traffic control centres in Cuba and Miami, which would normally provide support to Jamaica under these circumstances, were impacted by Hurricane Irma and were unable to do so.