Published On: Wed, Nov 7th, 2012

Category 1 is far away for Curacao Civil Aviation

WILLEMSTAD – It has been more than a year and a half since the aviation in Curacao has been downgraded to category 2. This means that this country does not meet the minimum ICAO safety requirement of the FAA. The airlines that were flying to the United States at the time of the assessment 18 months ago are basically frozen meaning that they can only fly to the US with the same aircrafts and equipments used at the time of the assessment, unless they wet lease aircrafts from a country that is category 1 or from an FAA 121 flag carrier.

We learned that the civil aviation authorities had a contract with an experienced consultant from the U.S. that had helped other countries like Panama, Venezuela and Dominican Republic to obtain category 1 status. His short term contract was not renewed when in a report he told the Curacao Civil Authorities the reality of the situation after his assessment.

We have learned through a source that the stumbling blocks are:

1. Interference from the sector director who lacks the knowledge but is continuously in quarrel with the few demoralized, undertrained, underpaid and very little experienced civil aviation inspectors.

We have learned that the Curacao Civil Authority has only a handful of inspectors for two major airlines and other private aviation companies. These inspectors are also expected to have oversight at the airport in Curacao. They also have oversight at the Sint Maarten airport and the aviation company there.

This indicates that there is very little or no oversight which cannot guarantee safety.

2. The inspectors don’t have an experienced administrator or superior in the civil aviation department whom they can relate to or go for support and guidance when they have a problem. A few months ago the Director of Civil Aviation resigned and his position was filled by the Sector Director. Afterwards the former Director retook his position at the Department.

The Department must have, as soon as possible, a director with the experience required to be able to improve the situation.

The staff must be increased to at least 11 to 15 inspectors. They must have experience and be well trained. Inspector’s guidance and procedures must be written, approved and followed. The Civil Aviation should immediately start the process to recertify the major airlines in the country, recertify themselves and provide adequate oversight over all the airlines, airport and general aviation, before we can talk about category 1.

We have learned that the major obstacle to reach category 1 are the Sector Director and the Director of Civil Aviation.

We have also learned that if Curacao had followed the councils given by the specialized consultant it would have been upgraded to category 1 in February or March of 2013. Unfortunately inexperience and the lack of understanding of how much damage this downgrading is causing to Curacao, the tourism and the economy is what really keeping this country from reaching category 1.

After a year and a half nothing has been accomplished after talking with several stake holders we conclude that unfortunately category 1 is far from being reached.

It is also unfortunately that this topic has not been addressed during last campaign. Hopefully the government can take this seriously and start doing something about it.

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