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[Jamaica] Aircraft maintenance engineers up in arms

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[Jamaica] Aircraft maintenance engineers up in arms

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Mar 13, 2011

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Aircraft maintenance engineers up in arms - Many have difficulty finding jobs
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
March 13, 2011

WESTERN BUREAU:
OscarDerby[1].jpg
EVEN WITH reports of the hundreds of carriers flying into Jamaica, several of the country's aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs), many licensed by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), say they can't find jobs.

Before Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL), Air Jamaica had some 29 engineers at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, now there are only eight; most, if not all, have been demoted and are reporting to Trinidad and Tobago.

Some of the 60 aircraft engineers who spoke with The Sunday Gleaner say they are still out of jobs, particularly since the downsizing and restructuring of Air Jamaica, now operating under CAL.

And if they had hoped that the arrival of several new carriers following the successful open-skies agreement, would mean employment, they were wrong.

The AMEs were responding to an article in last Sunday's Gleaner, titled 'Open skies - brings good business'. In a letter to the newspaper, they stated that their profession faces extinction, blaming the open-skies agreement and non-compliance by certain carriers.

Generally, an open-skies agreement is a liberalised form of air-services agreement between states that remove many of the restrictions to routes, frequency of arrivals per week and capacity of aircraft to be used on the routes.

Air carriers are not open-skies carriers, explained Col Oscar Derby, head of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), who has rubbished the claims by the AMEs.

Derby revealed that by 2026, the aviation industry will need 480,000 AMEs and 350,000 pilots to maintain and operate the additional 25,000 new airliners that will join the world airline fleet.

He said that qualified AMEs who are unemployed are unemployed by choice.

Noting that Jamaican AMEs are employed on every continent and in every region of the globe from Yellow Knife in the Canadian North West to Australia down under, the JCAA head said, "They have a reputation of competence in the industry and are in high demand."

He noted that nowhere in Jamaica's regulations does it require that any foreign operator must have maintenance personnel available while in Jamaica. "It is incumbent on the JCAA, however, to ensure that any scheduled operator must have a documented procedure to address any discrepancy that may arise with the aircraft while they are in Jamaica."

He said this should be done during the Foreign Air Operator Certification process initially and whenever such certificate is being renewed (annually). This is done and the records to support this are available. So any suggestion that the JCAA is failing to enforce the law could be libellous.

Commenting on the growing demand for aviation professionals, Derby said Jamaican aviation professionals must be prepared to take up employment overseas in these high-tech jobs. "Jamaica must take advantage of opportunities to train the next generation of aviation professionals for the global industry, whether they are locals or foreigners."

He stated, "The JCAA's enabling role is to have the capacity to certify new aviation training organisations (ATOs) that offer this training. We do have that capacity. AMEs who are currently unemployed may find employment in these ATOs which will allow them to expand their training capacity.
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