Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA HAS been given the green light to train aviation professionals for the global markets, which will need 350,000 pilots and 480,000 mechanics by 2026.
The country officially received its 'Trainair Plus' full membership from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) during a joint Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCCA) regional symposium at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, on Monday.
The ICAO is a United Nations specialised agency and the only global aviation standards setting body in the world.
The accreditation comes as aviation faces a number of critical challenges, including "a brain drain because of retirement of skilled workers and an increase of the global fleet", said JCCA's director general, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Derby.
Derby bolstered comments made by ICAO's regional director, Loretta Martin, who outlined several key challenges that must be addressed by the aviation industry locally, regionally and globally over the next few decades.
Martin argued that Latin America and the Caribbean were below their training capacity.
"Consequently, to remain sustainable, training institutions of this region must think internationally and globally, rather than nationally, otherwise they will not have enough trainees to remain in operation."
Martin's observations have been welcomed by the JCCA, whose head, Derby, said the local organisation now has access to all the standard training packages in a wide range of aviation courses.
In addition to the training of Air Traffic Controllers, which the JCCA has been doing since 1991, with Trainair Plus they are now equipped to train aviation professional in areas such as English language proficiency, flight dispatch, pilots up to a certain level, airfield maintenance, technicians and telecommunication specialists.
"With the global training capacity increasing to 350,000 pilots and 480,000 mechanics by 2026, there lies the opportunity to participate in delivery training to that group," said Derby.
Underlining the importance of the JCCA's role in the area of training, Minister of Transport and Works Dr Omar Davies, who officially opened the symposium, announced that Jamaica was seeking to expand its Air Traffic Controller training programme to the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Of note is the fact that International Aviation Authority forecasts that the 2.9 billion airlines passengers carried in 2012 will grow to over six billion by 2030, and that the 30 million flights they flew on will reach 60 million annually over the same period.
This is even more evidence that there is need for training facilities to accommodate those who will work in the industry.
Some 200 delegates, representing 26 countries, were in attendance at the symposium.