JIS News

Career choices for senior students at one of the country’s oldest secondary institutions, the prestigious Jamaica College, in Kingston, have widened with the introduction of an aviation programme in the school’s curriculum, beginning this academic year.
The programme, the first of its kind to be offered at any high school in the English-speaking Caribbean, was recently launched at the Old Hope Road based institution.
The course is being offered in partnership with local company, The Flying Club. It will operate under the Aircraft Training Organisation’s (ATO) approval granted to The Flying Club by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) for a private pilot’s licence ground school.
Technical Support Manager for the Jamaica College Aviation Programme, David Robertson, in an interview with JIS News, says that the curriculum includes both a theoretical and practical package.
“This involves, firstly, learning about all aspects of the airplane; how the airplane flies; the (various) theories of flight and how it is able to sustain flight,” he says.
“The next module is about the engine, the airplane engine, and how the engine works, how we will be able to fix it, minor repairs. After (the) engine module, we go on to meteorology, aviation weather systems, (understanding) what is safe flying weather and marginal flying weather,” Mr. Robertson explains.
He adds that students will be introduced to navigation, where they will gain an appreciation for different methods of map reading and survival techniques. They will also be introduced to computerised systems, to learn more about the aircraft.
“Then we move on to Jamaican Air law, which is the equivalent of a Road Code. It is an air code, following the various laws in the air from a Jamaican standpoint. After that, we learn about what is called weight and balance – how to lower the plane safely,” he states.
Mr. Robertson notes that the information students will receive in one year, compares favourably to that of private programmes.
“The private programme is sometimes compressed into three (or) two months, so the year is more than adequate time, especially for students who are hungry for the knowledge,” he explains.
He notes that the programme was designed, to give high school students an opportunity to take on new opportunities in emerging industries.
“We found the time was right to equip youngsters for the change in the economic climate (so that they can) be as marketable as possible. So this programme does really cut the line between dream and ambition. There are many who want to become a pilot, but don’t know how to go about it, and finances will keep it out of reach. This will show that you can match dream and ambition,” he points out.
While classes are optional, they will be offered to students in the fourth, fifth and sixth forms, as part of their regular curriculum. To register for the aviation course, students must have the consent of their parents, be in good academic standing and be disciplined. They also need to be fully competent in reading and writing.
Mr.. Robertson says that there is collaboration with other high schools in the Corporate Area, to invite other sixth formers to join those at Jamaica College. He suggests that, over time, the programme will be expanded to other areas of Jamaica.
“We will get the programme to them, or we will find a way to get them to us; but we have been speaking to schools as far away as Westmoreland and Portland. We will be making sure it comes to fruition by September 2010,” he assures JIS News.
Regarding the cost, Mr. Robertson states that JC students will be charged $18,000 for the course, while all other students will need to pay $21,500. He says that the rates are reasonable, as the programme is being heavily subsidised by past students and stakeholders.
The course will be offered over one or two-year periods, after which, successful students may sit an external aviation examination administered by the JCAA. JCAA certification is accepted worldwide, and is a prerequisite for obtaining a private pilot’s licencse.
“The programme is set in a way that, the minute you do get through this section you are on your way. You cannot get a private pilot licence without this theoretical package now; you are going to have to pass this exam,” Mr. Robertson adds.
The theoretical modules are scheduled to begin this month while flight training modules are scheduled to start the following academic year 2010/11. Approximately 200 students have already enrolled for the programme.
Theory will be offered at Jamaica College, while first year training flights will be offered at a local aerodrome.

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