The Director General-designate of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Col. Egbert Field on Tuesday said creative ways would have to be found to attract highly qualified and experienced persons as part of a plan to improve the country’s international civil aviation rating.
“The attraction of personnel for the industry is a problem because the Civil Aviation Authority has to compete with the commercial and the commercial enterprises pay a lot more so we will have to be very crafty in our payment package to not only include salaries but benefits- things that will attract individuals to come,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.
For years, Guyana has been dogged by its inability to hire top class aviation inspectors to make the country compliant with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules and regulations.
Field’s desire to offer attractive remuneration packages to bring in key personnel at the GCAA comes as an ICAO audit of the local aviation sector is about to begin.
The well-respected and highly experienced military and civilian aviator intends to spearhead efforts for Guyana to improve its level of ICAO compliance and so bring it up to Category One rating on the books of the United States Federal Aviation Administration. (FAA).
Due to the exodus of inspectors and other aviation personnel from the GCAA to lucrative private sector jobs in and out of Guyana along with a decline in technical capacity over the decades, the ICAO has determined that Guyana has 40 percent compliance and the FAA has downgraded the country to Category Two.
Fields hopes that when Guyana’s compliance rate improves, airlines would be able to register in Guyana and offer direct flights to the United States and Canada. “Getting Category One will open Guyana to airlines starting up and basing themselves in Guyana so that they will have the opportunity of flying to North America. At the moment no airline that is based in Guyana and is registered in Guyana will have the ability to go to North America simply because we are in Category Two but on the attainment of Category One, which I know I will be able to take this country towards., that would be a reality and we should have a lot more airlines,” he said.
Currently, for instance, Caribbean Airlines can only offer direct flights from Guyana to the US if they originate from Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport whose rating is higher than the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
Field boast 46 years of aviation experience as a pilot, administrator and safety expert in Guyana
Against the background of the American oil giant, ExxonMobil, preparing to extract oil from an offshore reservoir by 2020, the Civil Aviation chief says Guyana’s airports are about to get much busier. “With the oil industry on the verge of taking off we can expect that there will be a lot more traffic into Guyana and the Civil Aviation Authority must be the one to blaze the trail to take this aviation industry to places we would have never expected to go before,” he said.
With 18,000 flying hours in 35 years, Field believes that he is the man for the job. “I know what I can do for this industry and who knows we may have a return of Guyana Airways in the future with the attainment of Category One.” The state-owned Guyana Airways Corporation was closed down by the previous administration in 2000 due to heavy losses and high operational costs.
Field, who formerly worked with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, is also a transnational inspector with the Caribbean Aviation Safety Oversight System.