Jamaica’s air navigation service (ANS) delivery has been significantly boosted with the construction of $1.9 billion (C$20 million) state-of-the-art air traffic control towers at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston and Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay.
The 131-foot structure at NMIA, which was commissioned into service by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) in November, replaces the previous facility which served the airport for over 40 years.
The new tower at SIA is slated to be commissioned into service in 2017.
The construction of both towers, built by Canadian contractor, INTELCAN, forms part of Government’s comprehensive $4.92 billion modernization programme for the JCAA.
Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Mike Henry, describes the new facility as a symbol of modernity, signalling Jamaica’s evolution as an aerospace industry powerhouse.
He says the JCAA’s modernization programme “is a signal to local and international interests that the Government is committed to providing service in a modern and conducive building with state-of-the-art equipment of the highest international standards.”
Additionally, Mr. Henry says the undertaking is pivotal to the administration’s economic growth agenda.
“Innovation and performance in aviation continue to redefine the logistical possibilities of travel, while creating a reliable and safe super highway for multi-culturalism and networking,” the Minister adds.
Director General of the JCAA, Nari Williams-Singh, says the modernization programme is intended to satisfy local and international needs and requirements.
He indicates that approximately 178 flights are monitored by Jamaica’s air traffic controllers daily noting that this is expected to increase steadily over time.
“There is a global air navigation plan and all International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) contracting states are supposed to implement certain (measures) in order to meet the requirements of this plan in dealing with the projected increase in air traffic movement. So we have to be able to handle the increased volume more efficiently while ensuring safety,” Mr. Williams-Singh states.
Acting Chief Air Traffic Control Officer and supervisor for the NMIA tower, Richard Graham, says with the improvement, the new facility has moved air traffic control in “leaps and bounds.”
Notable among the changes, he points out, is communication which incorporates a touch entry device.
This facilitates communication involving air traffic, aircraft and vehicles on the ground.
“So we have the air field lighting system that has moved from a minute board, of about four feet wide with mechanical knobs, to just a computer touch screen, which gives us the same control while using digital technology,” he explains.
Mr. Graham adds that regular communication via telephone is also from the touch screen control.
It is anticipated that Jamaica’s ANS will be more reliable and efficient in providing safe world-class air traffic management services.
By PETA-GAY HODGES