Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2014 Contents A7
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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for APRIL 14th 2014
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Civil aviation authorities have ramped up mon-
itoring and safety checks on Caribbean Airlines
fleet of 22 planes in direct response to the loss of
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The disclosure came from Ramesh Lutchmedial,
director general of the Civil Aviation Authority who
declared that this country s "ultra-modern, world-
class" control centre is capable of ensuring an MH370-
type disaster, where a plane goes missing for extended
periods, does not occur here.
"We are ready for it, we have all the procedures
in place," he assured.
Lutchmedial s position was backed by the T&T
Airline Pilots Association as well as Caribbean Air-
The association, in a statement in response to
questions from the T&T Guardian, described the
radar system covering T&T airspace as "well-devel-
oped" and a "vast improvement" over the older
methods, both in safety and efficiency.
"Our US FAA Category 1 status ensures that we
meet or exceed international standards. Therefore,
we are no more likely to suffer aviation incidents
than any other jurisdiction," said T&TPA.
CAL corporate communications manager Clint
Williams also assured that the national carrier s fleet
had the technology to ensure that no aircraft went
"Our aircraft carry all communication and safety
equipment stipulated by the FAA and used indus-
try-wide," he said.
Williams did not provide the aircraft specifications
that allowed for tracking its aircraft.
According to director Lutchmedial, this country s
combination of radar and satellite phone technology
ensured radar coverage of 250 nautical miles and
satellite communication beyond that.
"If an aircraft, for some unforeseen circumstances,
goes down, let s say it ditches in the sea, they have
satellite phones," he said.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was lost in the
remote southern Indian Ocean, after it disappeared
en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239
people on board. The last recorded sighting was on
The latest news out of Malaysia suggests that faint
signals were detected at the bottom of the Indian
Ocean believed to be coming from the aircraft s black
box and a robotic submarine was deployed to inves-
Since the Malaysia Airlines incident, Lutchmedial
said, TTCAA has elevated its monitoring and safety
Aftermath of Malaysia aircraft mystery
Air traffic controllers Giselle Brereton and Kevin Brown monitor aircraft flying in
T&T airspace, as air traffic control supervisor (far right) James Seecharan, checks
the radar screen for the airplane positions at the T&T Civil Aviation Authority Air
Navigation Services Control Centre, Piarco. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
checks on the CAL fleet, which includes 15 Boeing
737-800, five ATR 72-600 and two Boeing 767-
"Absolutely we are monitoring CAL s fleet. In fact,
if the satellite phone is not working they cannot fly
to London, they cannot cross the Atlantic. That is
mandatory for that operation," Lutchmedial said.
"We are definitely ready if anything like this hap-
pens. We always have to be in a state of readiness,"
He said it is critical that all of CAL s satellite phones
in its aircraft are functioning properly so the TTCAA
can communicate with onboard staff anywhere in
The TTCAA, he said, performs continuous sur-
veillance which includes planned inspections and
spot checks where "we arrive unannounced and we
Lutchmedial said inspections were done weekly,
monthly and yearly.
"Sometimes we do them twice a week, three times
a week. It depends on level of activity, like during
the peak period we do them more often," he said.
He also said a plane was supposed to report every
half an hour to air control and "there is a protocol
that if it does not report within a certain period of
time then you deem the aircraft to be missing and
you initiate what is called search and rescue oper-
T&T, he said, is a party to the Chicago Convention,
which according to the International Civil Aviation
Organisation (ICAVO) Web site says signatory gov-
ernments have "agreed on certain principles and
arrangements in order that international civil aviation
may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and
that international air transport services may be estab-
lished on the basis of equality of opportunity and
operated soundly and economically)."
T&T RADAR CENTRES
Last month the T&T Guardian went on an
exclusive tour of the Area Control Centre and the
125-foot-high Air Traffic Control Tower at the Air
Navigational Services complex at Piarco. Both
areas are equipped with the most modern radar
Rohan Garib, executive manager of Air
Navigation Services at TTCAA, who led the tour,
explained that T&T had an airspace of 750,000
square nautical miles to manage, which spanned
from T&T to Antigua.
He said T&T has one of the most sophisticated
air traffic management system in the region and
also provides radar service within the region. The
radar, he said, is at Mt Catherine and receives
radar information from Guadeloupe, Martinique
Air traffic controllers in the Area Control Centre,
he said, provide safe and expeditious flow of air
traffic within T&T airspace, while ground
controllers (based in the tower) manage landing
and departures and activities on the runway.
He said for security reasons he could not divulge
further details on the radar service, but he said it
was purchased from Italian firm Selex.
Garib said T&T has invested in technology such
as an Automatic Dependency Surveillance
Broadcast (ADS-B) system, a satellite-type device
to track flights outside of the radar range, and
Controller Pilot Data (CPD) which air traffic
controllers use to communicate directly with pilots.
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