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Stage set for international aircraft to land at AIA

Stage set for international aircraft to land at AIA

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The stage has been set for any aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 757, Boeing 767 or Airbus A-300 to land at or take off from the Argyle International Airport (AIA), beginning February 14.

On Monday, January 23, the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) granted authorization for commencement of operations at the AIA and once the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) gives permission, any aircraft from a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that falls within the guidelines of ECCAA approval, can land here.

In a letter to Godfred Pompey, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Air and Seaport Development, director general of ECCAA, Donald McPhail, set out the conditions of the authorization.

“The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) refers to the inspection of the Argyle International Airport which it conducted on the 19th of January, 2017. Based on the findings of that inspection, it is apparent that the preparation for the operations of the said airport will be complete by the 11th of February, 2017. In the circumstances, authorization is hereby granted for the commencement of operations of the Argyle International Airport with effect from 00:01 am UTC0401 on the 14th of February, 2017. The airport is approved for the landing of and taking off of aircraft up to and including Code 4,” said Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis, as he read from McPhail’s letter on Star Radio on January 24.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aircraft classifications, a Code 4 aircraft is one with a maximum wing span of between 118 to 170 feet, such as the Boeing 757, Boeing 767 and Airbus A-300.

SVG is one of the 191 member states of the ICAO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Quebec, Canada. According to Wikipedia, the ICAO sets out “the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.”

Each member state of the ICAO is required to have its own civil aviation authority, but in the case of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), it was deemed impractical for the small member states to have their own aviation authorities, an aviation expert told SEARCHLIGHT.

A decision was therefore taken to have one civil aviation authority and the ECCAA was established in 2003 as a fully autonomous body, with the responsibility to regulate civil aviation activities within OECS Member States. However, this agreement had to be given legal effect through passage of The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Act in each Member State. By October 2004, five Member States had passed the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority Agreement Act, which signalled the ECCAA’s birth.

According to that Act, no person, thing or document can enter civil aviation in the OECS without the authority of the director general of the ECCAA. So, on that basis, approval for the operation of any airport or airfield in the OECS has to be done by the ECCAA and not by any other agency.

The aviation expert explained that once ECCAA gives approval for the operation of an airport, the individual states then decide which aircraft (their origin, airline, et cetera) they will allow to operate, in accordance with the ECCAA guidelines governing types of aircraft, size, et cetera.

Just as the ECCAA is the aviation authority in the OECS, the authority in Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority; that in Barbados is the Barbados Directorate of Civil Aviation, in Jamaica, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and in the United States, the Federal Aviation Authority.

The aviation expert also clarified that any airport which has border control (Immigration and Customs) is an international airport. However, people tend to loosely refer to international airports in terms of the size of airplane that can land there.

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