Government’s Civil Aviation Department is working assiduously to attain Category 1 (Cat 1) Status in accordance with the United States of America’s (USA) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Director of Civil Aviation, Tony Archer, is confident that this status can be attained next January, when Barbados is slated to be re-audited by the FAA to determine its compliance to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations.
The rating, which would automatically place Barbados in the big leagues of civil aviation, would, among other things, allow the country to have a registered (Barbadian) airline operating into the United States, as well as take part in reciprocal code-share arrangements with US carriers.
“Category 1 is an American requirement. If a Barbadian operator was operating into the USA, and they did not have the Category 1 Status – they would not be allowed to increase their operations there. However, if we do not operate into the USA and do not have Category 1 status, we would not be able to get into the USA. So, this Category 1 is a system, which allows you to operate in the USA or increase your operations into the USA. We are confident about that [our ability to attain Cat 1 status], but then they are the judges – not us,” he said when quizzed about Barbados’ readiness for elevation.
In giving the background to the audit procedures, the Civil Aviation head noted that contracting states were periodically audited by the ICAO, with all CARICOM countries, having already been assessed. Mr. Archer pointed out that if unsuccessful, states were given a deficiency list, which they had to “clear up within a given time.”
“We (Barbados) were audited back in February of last year (2009) and we had a few deficiencies. In the most part it had to do with regulations, which we have addressed, and they are in the final stages of being implemented.
“We were also audited by the FAA, and this is with respect to the infamous Category 1. They basically audit the state’s administrative and regulatory arm (Civil Aviation Department) to see if it is meeting international standards. We had an audit from the FAA last year, and like the ICAO, we had a few deficiencies, which we are attempting to clear up. They will be visiting with us early next year, in the first quarter, to see if we have addressed it all, and then we would be granted the Category 1 Status, if they agree with us,” he explained.
Mr. Archer’s comments followed the official opening of the Fourth Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Systems (CASSOS), at the Accra Beach Hotel.
In giving the raison d’être for the regional body, the Civil Aviation spokesman, who is also Chairman of CASSOS, said it primarily addressed civil aviation matters within CARICOM, with an emphasis on safety, security and harmonised operations and procedures.
“Of note, in recent times, security has taken over most of our attention in the administration of civil aviation and we are spending quite a bit of time bringing our states up to standards with respect to civil aviation security. Safety is also of paramount importance. We have been having a few accidents around the world, although, given the situation, aviation is still the safest mode of transport,” he maintained.
Mr. Archer also emphasised a holistic approach to training for members, with emphasis on standardised approaches.
“One of the key areas of focus for us is regulations and procedures, which we try to harmonise, so that an inspector from any one state, can go into another state and operate without too much problems,” he explained.
Of the seven CASSOS members, Jamaica, Trinidad, Suriname and the OECS already have earned Category 1 status.