Barbados: Pride and Professionalism in the Caribbean

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Barbados: Pride and Professionalism in the Caribbean

Unread post by bimjim » ... 41&start=1

Barbados: Pride and Professionalism in the Caribbean
Francis Spranza
August 01, 2011

On October 19, 1938, the arrival of a twin engine Royal Dutch Airliner from the island of Trinidad hailed the humble beginnings of commercial aviation on the island of Barbados. Since then, the airfield constructed on Seawell Plantation has grown to become a bustling international airport, with an 11,000 foot runway, operating on a 24 hour basis and handling more than two million air passengers each year.

Ensuring the safety, security, efficiency and professionalism of this bustling aviation center is the Barbados Civil Aviation Division under the Ministry of Transport Works and International Transport. Today, the island nation is an active member State of both ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) and CASSOS (the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System)

By 1973, Barbados aviation training demands had rapidly outgrown the normally allotted slots provided at the Trinidad and Tobago ATC School. In response, and with the assistance of Transport Canada, the Barbados Civil Aviation Training Center was born. Today, the BCATC provides recognized training and certification for ATC, Security and Emergency Responders from throughout the region. Equipped with a new ADC Virtual Reality Simulator, a state-of-the-art Radar Simulator, two classrooms and a host of relevant training aids, the Center achieved ICAO Trainair status on 12 January 2005.

I recently had both the privilege and the pleasure to interview Mr. Mitchinson H. Beckles, Director of Civil Aviation and discuss several key issues of safety, security and facilitation central to airline and airport operations both on Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.

Q. Where do you see the standing of the Barbados in relation to other Caribbean nations with regard to airline and airport safety, security and passenger facilitation?

A. We are constantly monitoring the implementation of all standards relating to passenger safety and security. As recently as last Tuesday, the US TSA conducted an audit and were most comfortable with us. As expected in any case, there were a few minor noted deficiencies and will deal with them in due course.

Q. With the rapid growth of civil aviation in the Caribbean now encompassing flights from around the world: What measures are being taken to meet this increase in globalization and address aviation safety and security concerns in today's dynamic aviation market?

A. Barbados is developing a performance based navigation program which is keeping with the roadmap as set out by the Caribbean and South American planning and implementation group. We work together to ensure that these standards are all adhered to and properly put in place. And we are in the process of conducting institutional strengthening in terms of our safety and security.

Q. With vacation and travel season often leading to a marked increase in air travel to and from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, how does the CAA office cope with this drastic increase in travelers – both commercial and private- and the related security measures necessary to aid in passenger facilitation during these times of increased traffic?

A. Summer vacation travel is not as significant to Barbados as winter travel – bringing with it Canadians and Europeans- as a result, the systems we have in place to facilitate the winter traffic are the same systems in place for summer traffic. The density of summer is actually lower than the winter. We experience more traffic in winter than in summer and handled quite well. The same systems are kept in place year round.

Q. What advances have been made in the area of aviation security within the Barbados over the past decade?

A. Barbados has made significant advances with in the last ten years and we are satisfying the ICAO and TSA requirements set for aviation security. When there are alerts in US to make changes and boost security we make the appropriate changes as required. Any deficiencies will be addressed in due course.

Q. With the recent controversy over airport screening techniques and various scanning technologies, what has been your experience with the traveling public and security screening in general?

A. This has not been much of a problem, we have found people get used to what is happening and respond quite well. We use the public address system, signage and other means to communicate and involve the passengers. If I may, the general public, and the world as a whole are cooperating with the security procedures in place. Of course there are one or two instances, but overall, we have gotten people to understand that this (new security procedures) is for their own safety, so when they get on board they feel comfortable and safe. I believe by bringing people into the picture, they feel safe, comfortable and don't mind at all.

Q. As an administrator, budgets and funding are always an issue. Can you give the readers some insight into how your organization copes in the areas of security and emergency response training, technology and manpower needs?

A. The issue rests with the airport operator. In Barbados, our security rests with The Civil Aviation Authority serving as regulator. We, as the regulators, and as such, we ensure that what they have as policy and procedures in their Operators Manual are carried out. Meeting their requirements indicates to us (as regulators) that the financial impact, however significant, does not stop them from meeting their obligations.

Q. Could you comment on the importance of the smaller airports located in the Caribbean as they relate to the security of Grantley Adams IAP as a whole.

A. Barbados applies security controls on all traffic coming into Barbados. In our system we do not say, "Ok, you have gone through security at a smaller territory so you need not go through ours." On the contrary, all must go through security at Barbados, this ensures strict adherence to both National and International security policy and procedures are maintained.

Q. Can you speak a bit to the role, make-up and operation of the airport security committee at Grantley Adams, and Bridgetown airports?

A. The airport security committee starts with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing security control and procedures as specified in the Airport Security Program. The Committee ensures that the controls are properly implemented and maintained. While the CAA audits the security manuals and ensures that things are being carried out.

Q. In what direction do you see aviation security in the Caribbean as a whole moving over the coming five years?

A. Everyone is subject to the universal security audit and associated training. As for the future, aviation security in the Caribbean it will obviously be moving towards the standards set for the rest of the world. Therefore, we should be seen as on par with the rest of the airports around the world as the procedures are basically the same.

Q. Recently a new focus has been placed by US TSA on General Aviation and the issue of ICAO AVSEC Compliance, what steps are being taken in the areas of safety and security to ensure the General Aviation Operators are meeting the requirements of both international AVSEC regulations and the National AVSEC plan?

A. General aviation security is considered no different in Barbados from the normal (Commercial) civil aviation. And, as such, the very same regulations relate to both. So we apply everything to the air operators - both general aviation and the normal commercial aviation- in the same stringent manner in Barbados so there is no difference. We have regular visits form the US TSA, as well as their presence in the rest of the region where flights going to the USA terminate. Therefore as routine, US TSA will visit those Caribbean states and ensure procedures are up-to-date and on par with safety and security policy in the US. In short, we are pretty good, and comfortable.


Barbados can boast a proud and long history in the aviation industry. Evidently, the Barbados Civil Aviation Division has taken advantage of the resources available to them and continued to evolve with the times to place itself at the forefront of security, training and technology to meet the needs of the traveling public. With more than seventy years of commitment to the training standards and administrative practices as set forth by ICAO (perhaps best reflected in the BCAD website ) the island of Barbados, through the constant oversight and innovative thinking of the BCAD, serves as a model for building, maintaining and administering civil aviation administrations throughout the hemisphere. Many thanks to Mr. Mitchinson H. Beckles, Director of Civil Aviation of Barbados, for sharing his thoughts with our readers today.



The Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) was established on the signing by the Governments of Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago of the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System, and designated an Institution of the Community by the Conference pursuant to Article 21 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

CASSOS succeeds the Regional Aviation Safety Oversight System (RASOS) with expanded functions. It formalizes arrangements for: coordinating in a cost effective manner the sharing of the limited technical aviation expertise of the region; the harmonization of training, licensing, certification and inspection procedures; and providing technical support to the participating States to enable them to achieve and maintain full compliance with international safety and security standards in keeping with their obligations as contracting States to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention, 1944).

The regional approach is consistent with the global strategy promoted by ICAO and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address safety and security oversight issues in contracting states, and CARICOM joins other regions in establishing its own entity membership of which is open to non-CARICOM Caribbean States and territories.

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