Everything Being Done to Have Normal Flights – Henry

Photo: Michael Sloley Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry (centre), in a meeting with personnel from the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association and Aerotel to discuss matters relating to a lightning strike on Friday (September 8), which damaged the radar and communications systems at the Kingston Air Traffic control centre, in Kingston.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is assuring the public that everything is being done to ensure that flights in and out of the island return to normal in the shortest possible time.
  • On Friday (September 8), the radar and communications systems at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre in Kingston were struck by lightning, causing a shutdown of Jamaica’s airspace.
  • The lightning strike destroyed the voice control switch that monitors the air to ground voice communications as well as the air traffic management computer systems.

The Government is assuring the public that everything is being done to ensure that flights in and out of the island return to normal in the shortest possible time.

This assurance was given by Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, in an interview with JIS News on Sunday (September 10), following a meeting with key stakeholders in the industry, such as the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association and Aerotel Communications Ltd.

On Friday (September 8), the radar and communications systems at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre in Kingston were struck by lightning, causing a shutdown of Jamaica’s airspace.

Deputy Director General of Air Navigation Services at the JCAA, Carl Gaynair, said that a contingency plan has been put in place to enable the re-opening of the airspace on a limited basis.

“We have been providing limited air traffic services since 11:00 p.m. last night (September 9). We are now operating at approximately 50 per cent with the expectation that it will increase in the coming days,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the Government “will be putting in the necessary systems to ensure that operations are continuous.”

He pointed out that while the incident was beyond human control, he would be looking at measures to prevent a recurrence.

“It is impossible to prevent a lightning strike, and I will be looking into strategies, such as installing lightning arresters,” the Minister said.

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

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

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