A former manager of the V.C. Bird International Airport, is urging the government to do whatever it has to do to bring Antigua and Barbuda’s air traffic control systems in line with international standards.
Errol George said the equipment here fall woefully short right now and it is unfair of the government to ask the air traffic controllers to operate with obsolete and antiquated equipment.
“I tip my hat to the air traffic controllers who are quite often having to revert to the old method and technology of controlling aircrafts in an air space. The air traffic controllers have to begin to rely on their professional principles and make sure that whoever is responsible for providing those things to them that they need to get down on their heads and make sure that they get them,” he said.
Speaking with OBSERVER media from New Jersey yesterday, George said that that Antigua and Barbuda should not be in this position because it was the first country in the region, excluding Puerto Rico, to install a Traffic Control Radar system. That was in 1990.
“The equipment was flight checked and ready to go, but, what happened to support that radar operation you have to have in place trained technicians and parts to guarantee its continued safe operation without it breaking down and you cannot fix it. The government for one reason or the other failed to provide that,” he added.
The former air traffic controller went on to be the manager of the V.C. Bird International Airport from 1990 until 2004 when he retired.
He said that back then, he and his team realised that as long as planes were landing at the airport, the government was not concerned about getting the proper equipment, and he believes the present government is of the same mindset.
Air traffic controllers intensified their demands for better working conditions, including modern equipment, on Labour Day in May.
The government responded by promising a new CAB for the control tower, but difficulty in paying the Canadian company for building the CAB, has seen many deadlines being made and broken.