Full Restoration of Air Services Within 48 Hours

Photo: Dave Reid Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry (left), addresses a press conference held yesterday (September 14) at the Ministry’s Maxfield Avenue offices. Others (from second left) are Advisor to the Minister, Leroy Lindsay; and President and Chief Executive Officer, Airports Authority of Jamaica, Audley H. Deidrick.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, says full restoration of air services should take place within the next 48 hours.
  • Major damage to the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) radar communication system, due to a lightning strike last Friday (September 8), resulted in limited access to the country’s airspace.
  • Meanwhile, Minister Henry explained that the new towers at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) and Sangster International Airport will have contingencies to support the ATC Centre, so that the “backup system we are all clambering for will no longer reside in one location but at three separate locations”.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, says full restoration of air services should take place within the next 48 hours.

He was speaking yesterday (September 14), at a press conference held at the Ministry’s Maxfield Avenue offices.

Major damage to the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) radar communication system, due to a lightning strike last Friday (September 8), resulted in limited access to the country’s airspace.

Mr. Henry noted that the control system at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Centre), which was installed in 2002, suffered major damage, for which spare parts are not readily available.

“The new system from Thales, the French company with the highest reputation for quality, is now in the final stages of implementation. The staff is not yet fully trained to use this new system, as the process is incremental and in line with installation of various pieces of the system,” he explained.

The Minister noted that it is this new system that is being used by a trained contingency team to provide the air services now being given.

He added that the country’s air traffic controllers are currently undergoing the requisite training to be able to effectively use this system.

Meanwhile, Minister Henry explained that the new towers at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) and Sangster International Airport will have contingencies to support the ATC Centre, so that the “backup system we are all clambering for will no longer reside in one location but at three separate locations”.

“The NMIA tower is now complete and will have in it a total backup system for the ATC Centre. The Sangster International Airport Tower will be completed by the end of this year and will also have a backup system for the Kingston Centre. The Kingston Centre will also have a complete backup system at Winchester Road,” he said.

The new towers and systems, when complete, will cost US$28 million or approximately $3.5 billion.

Mr. Henry said the radar system being installed now will be the backup surveillance system for a new Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) system.

“This will give us triple surveillance capabilities and must be in place by 2020, otherwise we cannot fly into the United States. I want this to be in place by the end of 2018 or early 2019, so that we are ahead of the game,” he added.

The Boards of Aeronautical Telecommunications Ltd. (AEROTEL), JCAA and Airports Authority of Jamaica have been instructed to order a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shutdown of the country’s airspace.

A report on the investigation is to be given to the Minister in the shortest possible time.

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