Concerns voiced over air traffic control for world cup
Stabroek News
November 22, 2006

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A shortage of adequate equipment at the Air Traffic Control Tower at Timehri could lead to cancellations and rescheduling of flights when the 15,000-odd visitors expected for CWC 2007 descend on Guyana next March.

A letter writer familiar with the situation wrote in yesterday's edition of Stabroek News that with the expected arrival of some 15,000 visitors specifically for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 it is likely that air traffic would increase by 100% both internally and internationally. This is likely to have a severe impact on the already fragile ATC system, resulting in excessive delays and possible cancellations of flights.

Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority Zulfikar Mohamed told Stabroek News yesterday that he would not be able to respond to the letter writer's claim of inadequate equipment for Air Traffic Control in Guyana until he looked at the correspondence properly.

Mohamed said he would like to know who wrote the letter and added that he should have been contacted before its publication. The DG also said he could not comment on the accuracy of the missive.

A staff member at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri commented that the letter writer was "exaggerating and blowing up a minor situation".

Other sources said Mohamed would have been briefed on the situation with air traffic control equipment. These sources also confirmed that the content of the letter was basically correct adding that the air traffic control tower would require an investment of several million dollars to be brought on par with required industry standards.

The letter writer said air traffic control officers worked under deplorable conditions with various pieces of unserviceable equipment such as Instrument Landing System (ILS), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Non-Directional Beacon (NDB), High Frequency (HF) Radios, Very High Frequency (VHF) Radios, Voice Communica-tion Console System, Aero-nautical Fixed Telecommu-nication Network (AFTN) and Very High Frequency Omni Range (VOR). Some of the models were manufactured in the mid-1970s.

Staff training was recommended as well as the presence of a supervisor on all shifts and an adequate work/ rest schedule. Additionally, it was recommended that new equipment be installed at the control tower as failure to do so would result in an unsafe and inefficient air traffic services system. This would result in numerous delays, rescheduling and rerouting of flights into, out of and through Guyana's airspace.

In April night flights to the CJIA were stopped temporarily because of an inaccurate barometer at the airport's control tower. BWIA had cancelled and rescheduled some of its flights.

On July 21, a North American Airlines flight was forced to delay landing for nearly three hours because the airport was closed as a result of bad weather. As a result of these incidents questions were raised about the availability of equipment to assist the navigation of air traffic in bad weather.

It was explained then that sometimes the weather is so bad in the Caribbean there is not enough equipment to land aircraft in extremely bad weather.