Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Have you ever dreamed of seeing the world from the skies? Whether your interest is purely recreational or you are planning a career in aviation, learning to fly is an exciting and challenging undertaking. With the myriad of opportunities and expertise required, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Derby, director general of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, said there is the intention to establish an Aviation Academy of Excellence in Jamaica.
According to Derby, the Aviation Academy will incorporate existing schools in Jamaica to include both civilian and military operations. Recently, the Jamaica Defence Force launched its own training facility for pilots, the Jamaica Military Aviation School, located at premises close to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
The objectives, Derby said, is to collaborate and network with other Caricom member states, including Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana that have a similar infrastructure to provide training that is on par with the global market.
"Students will have a choice of studying and pursuing their course of study in any of these countries. They will cover all or most aspects of aviation training," Derby said.
Focus on training
Trinidad and Tobago, he said, has such a facility, and Jamaica's will be designed and built to specification. "We will design the building for training purposes. Careful study will be undertaken to realise this vision and it will be designed and built around the specifics," Derby said.
Derby said the idea has been in the pipeline for about two years.
"Everything has its time. We mentioned it to the previous board and the present board. We are at the stage where we are studying the process and are at the point where the decision-making process can begin," Derby said.
Derby said they are also in discussions with the schools here in Jamaica to take a collaborative approach with the view of establishing the Academy of Excellence. These schools include the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre that operates out of Tinson Pen Aerodrome Kingston, Jamaica. Tinson Pen is the largest domestic aerodrome on the island and is an ideal training facility for flight education.
"The Caribbean Aviation Training Centre is an annex that also connects to the Air Services Flight School in Guyana. They have trained in excess of 800 hundred pilots," Derby said.
Also, the Caribbean Aerospace College that has been instituted to transform the aeronautical environment and to train personnel for the Jamaican and global aviation industry. Their partners include the Air Transport Training College, World Class Aviation Academy, Jamaica Air Shuttle Limited and the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.
Derby is also seeking to incorporate the Jamaica Civil Aviation Training Institute that offers training for air traffic controllers.