Guyana cannot grow without aviation sector
October 28, 2017
GCAA Director-General Egbert Field
GCAA Director-General, Egbert Field, told the gathering which included Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and Junior Minister of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson that the sector is vital to Guyana’s economy. He said in 2004, there were only 20 or 25 aircraft operated by local aviation entities. Today, there are 85 aircraft registered with the GCAA. “We must understand that Guyana cannot grow without aviation,” he said, noting that particular attention must be paid to the sector.
Field said the evolving oil and gas sector is on the GCAA’s radar. “We are not waiting for 2020”, he said, as he explained that given the key oil discoveries made thus far and those which may become reality , there will be an injection of 20 to 30 helicopters into the aviation environment here , a move which may see some changes to the local air circuits. That is the kind of tsunami I see coming,” he said, noting that it is among several challenges facing the GCAA.
As he zoomed in on the theme of the two-day event, Field noted that aviation is “completely without dangers.
“We have to look for all those cracks where elements of safety doesn’t [sic]exist, and try to patch those cracks,” he told the gathering. He said the GCAA is working steadfastly towards addressing safety issues, noting that the body has invested over G$300M in the development of the ADS-B surveillance navigation system which is assisting Air Traffic Control in tracking aircraft.
The experienced pilot noted too that he has flown into the country’s hinterland, and as such, he is familiar with what the environment entails. He said the GCAA has been granted certification from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for improvement in compliance records. To this end, he mentioned the 44 per cent to 64 per cent upward movement the country made following audits by the international body. He expressed confidence that Guyana can attain and pass the 70 per cent mark, and according to him, the figure cannot be achieved without the support of the government.
Minister Patterson told those gathered that the sector is expanding at a rapid pace and he noted that the time has come for it to be enhanced in a coherent manner. To this end, he informed the gathering that the government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will be developing a civil aviation master plan in 2018. Patterson said that government is aware of the need to diversify into other areas such as helicopter operations and offshore landing areas.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, told the gathering that since ICAO has acknowledged the country’s record, it signifies that Guyana as a state “is doing the right thing.” Ferguson, who is the subject minister, explained that the country is on the road to achieving top standards with the other achieving states globally. She said safety is indeed a critical area of focus for the government. She noted that the GCAA has been upgrading its staffing and safety framework, noting that significant sums have been spent by the body on staff training and development. She said this ensures that the body has the ability to discharge its responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nagamootoo pointed out that for the industry to be profitable and viable it must provide safety on the ground and in the air. “Safety is not just a government concern, safety is the business of the civil aviation sector, ” he said, noting that it centres on everything related to the local aviation sector. He said more people and cargo are being moved today, noting that thousands move through the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), as well as the Eugene F Correia International Airport, annually. “Today, the sector is the busiest it has ever been in the history of Guyana,” he noted.