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Bahamas Needs Extra 200 Air Traffic Controllers

Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers’ Union
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Bahamas Needs Extra 200 Air Traffic Controllers

Unread post by bimjim » Fri May 10, 2013

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2013/may ... ntrollers/

Bahamas Needs Extra 200 Air Traffic Controllers
Friday, May 10, 2013

AN extra 150-200 air traffic controllers are needed to provide proper air traffic service throughout The Bahamas, their union head yesterday expressing concern over whether there would be sufficient manpower to deal with the increased flights generated by Baha Mar.

Roscoe Perpall, president of the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU), said that even with the addition of a new $14 million radar system at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), more manpower was definitely needed to provided the optimum level of service.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glenys Hanna-Martin, said at the recent contract signing for the purchase and installation of a new radar system that advertisements will soon run for trainee air traffic controllers to “reinforce and supplement” those currently in place.

“We definitely need more controllers, and probably at the end of the day we will need more controllers than we need now, even if everything remains the same, because the capacity of the system to do work and what would be the requirements of the system users at the end of the day,” Mr Perpall said.

“Currently we have a staff of about 80 on-line controllers total at the air traffic centre, and that’s not really fair because out of that 80 we have about nine persons in the Family Islands.

“I think there are about 68 persons actually provide air traffic service at LPIA at this point. It was independently suggested more than 10 years that we need to increase our staff by 100 per cent to provide the safe and necessary level of service that is required in this area, and we still think those numbers are somewhere in the vicinity of 150-200 controllers needed to provide a fair level of air traffic service over our archipelago.”

The new radar will replace an aging ASR 8 system. “Due to the planning features, if we amend our procedures to cope with modern day traffic, it will allow us to better plan our traffic,” Mr Perpall said.

“It could prevent some delays. One of the things we are quite aware of and trying to prepare for in the meantime is the commissioning of the radar will also coincide with the opening of Baha Mar.

“We expect with the opening of Baha Mar a significant increase traffic. The Minister addressed this, that there will be additional staff, but the training of staff takes some time for an air traffic controller. We will try to see how we can have the staff thing up by the time the radar reaches, so that we will be able to provide the necessary service.

“Right now we are kind of concerned that we would not be able to deliver the level of service we should be capable of because we do not have the necessary manpower.”

Mr Perpall added: “That will greatly enhance our ability to provide a higher level of service than the current system provides. The current system was installed in 1985. It has far outlived its life expectancy and in recent years has been a bit problematic.

“The new system has a whole lot of enhancements that will give us far greater capacity. One of the areas we are looking at is that the new system will be able to interlink with a number of other systems in the area, namely the ones in Grand and Exuma, which will provide us with greater coverage of almost the entire Bahamas.

“While this is being done we are working with the Government to determine how else the delivery of air traffic service can be improved. Some work is being done on our communication network, and with our radar service increase we see better days ahead for the air traffic system. We are only now left to work out the details as to how we are going to deal with the human resource and the legal framework with some of the systems that are to be brought in place. The Minister has already alluded to some of those.”

Mrs Hanna-Martin had said the operation and management of airports will move into an Airports Authority and out of the remit of the Department of Civil Aviation. She also noted that the investigation of aviation accidents will move into an autonomous agency, again away from the Civil Aviation Department.

The Department, she said, will retain its sole responsibility for regulatory oversight at the national level of safety and security.

Mr Perpall said the union, while understanding the need for the regulator and provider to be separate entities, was concerned over the Government’s approach.

“While we know there is a need for the department to be separated ,where the regulator and provider ought not to be the same entity, we are careful also about the Government establishing a separate entity to conduct aircraft investigations,” he said.

“Our concern with respect to that is that we have had very few accidents in the past years, and to establish an entire government bureaucracy for that alone is something that we are questioning. We know there are ways to establish that entity without it being specific to aircraft investigations. One of the examples is in the US, which has an independent investigator for aircraft accidents but that falls under the National transport Safety Board (NTSB), who basically investigates all transportation accidents whether it is a train, bus or aircraft.

“We could probably look at something like that rather than setting up something which would more or less be a government corporation.”

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