The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Air Wing on Monday January 31, officially opened a hostel, which will house students enrolled at its military flight training academy, the Jamaica Military Aviation School (JMAS).
The hostel, situated at the JDF’s Headquarters, Up Park Camp, St. Andrew, was constructed at a cost of approximately $8.9 million (CAN$104,000) with funding provided by the Canadian Military Training and Cooperation Programme (CMTCP).
A model of innovation and ingenuity, the two-storey building, which was designed by the JDF's Engineering Projects Department and built by the Engineering Regiment 3 Construction Squadron, incorporates the use of four modified 40-foot shipping containers. It consists of six fully furnished self-contained suites.
Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Stephen Hallihan, who addressed the handing over and dedication ceremony, said JMAS is a centre of excellence for the island and the wider Caribbean, teaching the highest standards of flight safety and operations.
“The opening of this block is really, perhaps, just the next step towards opening up its incredible facilities and its incredible staff to partner countries around the region, not just for their own national security needs, but for the regional security requirements as well,” Mr. Hallihan said while committing Canada’s continued and increased assistance to and partnership with the JDF.
Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson, in his remarks, said that the opening of the hostel provides proper accommodation for persons in Jamaica and the wider region.
“Hopefully in the near future, we will have students, not only from Jamaica living in it…but also students from the wider Caribbean and, perhaps, even from non-Caribbean territories, who wish to send their students here. The flight training we offer is of the highest international standards, and this is really something that Jamaica, in its entirety, can be proud of,” Major General Anderson said, while thanking the Canadian Government for its input.
JDF Air Wing Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Roper, cited JMAS’ importance to the training of pilots and the future of the air wing.
“JMAS is the air wing’s centre of gravity at the moment. Without JMAS and its ability to provide and sustain pilots for us, the air wing would cease to exist. We trained our last pilot in Canada in 2005, we trained our first pilot in Jamaica in 2007, and the training has been ongoing, and this accommodation that we see here, will further that training and of course, the existence of the air wing,” Lt. Col. Roper said.
JMAS, which is situated on the compound of the Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston, was established in 2006 with assistance from the Canadian government through the Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation.
A total of nine pilots have graduated from JMAS since its establishment.
CONTACT: DOUGLAS McINTOSH