JIS News

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  • JCAA Director General, Leroy Lindsay, says it is now an opportune time for Jamaica and the region to examine their best practices and standards in aviation.
  • Mr. Lindsay said the JCAA is in a constant state of preparedness for any eventuality that may occur.
  • Mr. Lindsay said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines require the local civil aviation body to have search and rescue measures in place.

Director General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Leroy Lindsay, says it is now an opportune time for Jamaica and the region to examine their best practices and standards in Emergency Response Management and Airport Security.

In an interview with JIS News, following the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines aircraft over the South China Sea on March 8, Mr. Lindsay said the JCAA is in a constant state of preparedness for any eventuality that may occur.

He argued that such an incident can happen anywhere in the world, and the best preparation is to put adequate search and rescue facilities in place and ensure that surveillance equipment is of the highest quality to track aircraft movement in the region, using radar technology.

In terms of Jamaica’s level of preparedness for the kind of search and rescue effort that would go into a crisis of that nature, Mr. Lindsay said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines require the local civil aviation body to have search and rescue measures in place.

Mr. Lindsay pointed out that the JCAA met with civil aviation officials from the Cayman Islands, and the JDF, a week ago, to formulate a search and rescue co-operation agreement between the two countries.

He said co-operation among nations is an important feature of such operations and that Jamaica’s search and rescue structure included regional partners, such as the United States Coast Guard. He added that as members of the Caribbean Aviation Security Safety and Oversight Service (CASSOS), most Caribbean islands work together on this aspect of aviation security.

Mr. Lindsay said the Malaysian Airlines incident has implications for airport security, citing the discovery of the use of stolen passports by two of the passengers aboard the flight.

Senior Director of Airport Operations at the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), Commander John McFarlane, said the security team at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) has been very stringent.

“So far, we have been fairly successful. We have detected a number of fraudulent documents and Immigration has always acted very swiftly in dealing with those,” he said.

Commander McFarlane said perhaps the greatest implication for Jamaica would be the response in the aftermath of a similar occurrence, when family and friends converge on the airport to get information.

He explained that as soon as a crisis is detected, the Emergency Operations Centre would be activated and that would involve facilities to be used to attend to friends and family, as well as a media centre. It would involve numerous agencies, including the police, the military, private security providers and hospitals, among others.

Commander McFarlane said lessons were learned from the 2009 incident involving an American Airlines aircraft overshooting the runway at the Norman Manley International Airport, and that a mechanism is now in place for rapid response.

He noted that monthly meetings are held with all airlines, air operators and ground handlers and that the AAJ has developed established and approved procedures consistent with ICAO standards and passed by the JCAA, and these are activated, once there is a need.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lindsay says the JCAA continues to stay on top of measures to mitigate and, if necessary, deal with crises of this nature.

“We continue to train our people to the highest standards. We have to be prepared for things like these. We don’t plan for them, but we have to be ready for them,” he added.