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Henry says JCAA limiting air traffic services for safety reasons

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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MINISTER of Transport and Mining Mike Henry says the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) has been limiting the hours of air traffic services at the island's two international airports since Friday afternoon, for safety reasons.

In the meantime, he said that the JCAA has invested in an enhanced lighting protection system, which will go a far way in mitigating any future lightning strikes like the one which knocked out the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre (KATCC) at the JCAA's Winchester Road location in Kingston.

“Our response was swift, deliberate, but extremely measured, monitored and careful to ensure that services would be returned on a phased basis, while being mindful of our international obligations,” he said.

On Tuesday, in a statement to the House of Representatives explaining what led to the curtailment of flights between Friday and Monday morning, Henry insisted that, under his Administration, safety will always take precedence in the sector.

“There will always be displeasure and discomfort with delays. But, let me assure you and this honourable House and, by extension, the people of Jamaica, that under this minister, this ministry and this Government, safety will always take precedence as we work together to maintain the very enviable record of aviation safety for which we are justly proud,” Henry said.

He noted that the massive lightning strike on Friday, during inclement weather associated with hurricane turbulence in the area, did significant damage to the KATCC, which affected the management of and operation within Jamaica's Flight Information Region.

“We were unable to provide air traffic services to both incoming and outgoing flights to the island, as well as flights traversing Jamaica's airspace from Friday to Saturday,” Henry noted.

He said that, given the sensitive nature of the industry and the enviable safety record Jamaica boasts, “we had to move with dispatch to get the services back up and running”.

He paid tribute to employees of the JCAA, the Jamaica Air Traffic Controllers Association, and Aerotel for working around the clock to ensure that the services were restored during the weekend.

He said that flights already on the ground were facilitated to leave, and that approximately 67 flights, at both the Norman Manley and Sangster international airports, were affected by the occurrence.

— Balford Henry

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