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No way!
Trinidad civil aviation authorities respond to money claims

A war of words has broken out in the airspace between Barbados and neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago over the payment of navigation fees for aircraft flying between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.

At present the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority administers the airspace over 30,000 feet in the south eastern Caribbean.

However, as part of that responsibility, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy today charged that Port of Spain has been collecting “millions of dollars” in fees for aircraft coming into Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) for which he demanded payment by cheque.

In leading off debate on the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Sealy did not reveal exactly how much he perceived was owed to Bridgetown, but he argued that “a sizable sum of money” was due, while suggesting that the continued non-payment amounted to a major oversight on the part of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation authorities that should be settled as soon as possible.

The senior Government spokesman further argued that an agreement had been reached for the appropriate sharing by Port of Spain of the navigation fees collected with the territories in the Eastern Caribbean. However, Sealy charged that the arrangement had not been honoured by T&T even though he said GAIA was busier than Piarco with over 30,000 landings and takeoffs a year.

He also told fellow parliamentarians that the issue had recently been elevated to the level of the CARICOM Heads of Government, who are scheduled to meet in Guyana next week for their annual summit.

“I would like that whatever they have for the Eastern Caribbean, and Barbados in particular, they could just get around to sending the cheques across,” the Minister of Civil Aviation told Parliament today, adding that the timing was perfect because Barbados was putting its business plan in place and it needed to have its revenue sources in order so that the country could build up the Civil Aviation Authority and by extension the civil aviation sector.

However, when contacted by Barbados TODAY this evening, Director General of Civil Aviation Trinidad and Tobago Ramesh Lutchmedial said as far as he was concerned, there were no outstanding navigation fees due to Barbados.

He pointed out that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was the body responsible for assigning airspace territory and as far back as 1950 it had assigned the Piarco Flight Information Region (FIR) to Trinidad and Tobago. He also highlighted Article 15 of the Chicago Convention, of which Barbados is a signatory, saying “a country can only charge airlines if they provide a service to the airlines.

“We only charge airlines for services we provide above 24,500 feet, so therefore, we don’t owe Barbados or any other Eastern Caribbean state any money because we are not collecting monies for flying in their terminal areas or for any services that we provide.

“We only charge the airlines for the air navigation services that the civil aviation authority provides to the airlines,” he said, insisting that the charges pertained to the international aerospace and not the sovereign territory of Barbados or any other islands of the Eastern Caribbean.

The Trinidadian official also dismissed Sealy’s suggestion that an agreement had been reached between the islands, saying, “there was no agreement” to speak of.

He explained that after ICAO had formulated an agreement to be signed by all the parties several years ago, “Barbados and the OECS did not show up for the meeting to sign the agreement”.

However, he pointed out that in terms of navigational aids, Trinidad and Tobago had assisted Barbados with the purchase of a VOR (navigation station for aircraft, explaining that “we paid Barbados 246,000 US dollars, representing half the cost of it, because we not only use it for approach into Barbados, but also for flying in the FIR”.

At the same time, Lutchmedial stressed that no fees were collected in the Barbados terminal area that is below 24,500 feet. He said while he had been hearing the talk for the past 15 years of outstanding fees, “the fact is that we only collect money for the service that we provide”.

He said he could not confirm how much Trinidad collects in fees within area it calls “international navigational space”, but said it was based on a cost recovery basis, adding that Trinidad and Tobago had to make full disclosure on what it was costing to provide the service.

“We are not around to make a profit and we do not make a profit. Purely cost recovery,” he said.

“Further when we agreed on the initial range, Barbados, Antigua and St Vincent made representations to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that the rates were a bit high, and therefore they would affect tourism in their territories, and our Government decided to subsidize the rate,” the Trinidad civil aviation top official said.

“So that what we are charging the airlines is not the full rate of cost recovery. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago, continue to subsidize that service that we provide to the airlines,” he said.

He therefore concluded that as far as he was concerned no money was owed by Trinidad to anyone.

However, he said the Trinidad authorities were “most willing” to sit down with Sealy to explain to him “in the minutest of detail exactly what we charge the airlines for and the basis for those charges”.


EgyptAir flight carrying 56 passengers and ten crew has disappeared

'We are in solidarity with all the families who are suffering'
David Chazan at Charles de Gaulle airport writes:
The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and the transport minister, Alain Vidalies, have spoken to relatives of passengers at the Hotel Mercure near the airport.
About 10 counsellors and medics are helping shocked family members at the hotel.

Mr Ayrault told reporters after meeting relatives that they were still coming to terms with the tragic disappearance of the plane.
“For the time being, were are above all in solidarity with the families who are suffering,” Mr Ayrault said. “They are anxiously waiting for information.”
The minister said no assumptions should be made about what happened to the airliner until more definite, “verified information” was available.

Officially the cause of the flight’s disappearance remains unknown but investigators believe it is likely to have been a terrorist attack.

If confirmed, that will inevitably raise questions about Paris airport security. Precautions were increased after the November terrorist attacks in the French capital, and security was further heightened after the Brussels airport attack in March.

Additional police were deployed at the two main airports in Paris, Charles de Gaulle-Roissy, where EgyptAir flight MS804 took off for Cairo at 11:09 PM local time on Wednesday, and Orly.

Police now carry out extra patrols the perimeter of the airport and access to the airport terminals is more strictly controlled, with ID checks.

French aviation experts said that if the plane was only on the ground for an hour or two before taking off to return to Cairo, it might not have been fully inspected by Paris security officers.


FreeFlight Systems and CMD Flight Solutions complete ADS-B

FreeFlight Systems reports that engineering and certification company CMD Flight Solutions has obtained an AML STC for the installation of a FreeFlight 1203C SBAS/GNSS sensor paired with Rockwell Collins’ TDR­-94/94D transponders.

The pairing is a cost effective way to help aircraft owners meet the ADS­-B mandate, according to company officials.

Freeflight“We are pleased to be a part of the CMD Flight Solutions AML STC, which provides cost effective solutions for more than 100 different models of Part 25 aircraft,” said Pete Ring, FreeFlight Systems’ Director of Sales and Marketing. “The CMD Flight Solutions approach is inline with our goals of making the full benefits of rule compliant ADS­-B operations available to all aircraft types, with minimal disruption to existing aircraft avionics.”

The FreeFlight Systems 1203C SBAS/GNSS sensor was designed to be modular and integratable with various other avionics, company officials noted.

As a certified ADS­-B position source, approved for all ICAO jurisdictions, the integrated 15­-channel 1203C SBAS/GNSS sensor is part of a fully rule­-compliant ADS­-B Out system when paired with a compatible, certified Mode S transponder like the TDR­94/94D. The 1023C continues to providing reliable service to fleets worldwide and also serves as an approved position source for CPDLC, TAWS/FMS, RNP and other NextGen applications.


NTSB slates Loss of Control Safety Seminar

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Transportation Safety Board will highlight lessons learned from its investigations of general aviation accidents involving loss of control, during a seminar scheduled for 9 a.m., May 14, at the NTSB Training Center, in Ashburn, Virginia.

The NTSB has partnered with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the FAA, for the educational seminar.

Accidents attributed to “loss of control in-flight” are the most common defining events for fatal crashes in general aviation, accounting for about 40% of GA fatalities.

Unfortunately, the circumstances for these accidents are often repeated over time, precipitating a need for change in this area, NTSB officials said. Reducing general aviation accidents remains a high priority for the NTSB and this seminar is one effort in that mission, officials add.

NTSB Board Member Earl Weener will be a featured presenter and attendees will also hear NTSB investigators describe how they investigate accidents, as well as the resultant safety recommendations the NTSB issues to reduce the accident rate in this critical area.

This is the eighth in a series of NTSB safety seminars focused on general aviation accidents. The four-hour seminar is free, and pilots participating in the FAA’s WINGS program will receive credit for attendance.

Because space is limited, early registration is highly recommended. The doors will open at 8:30 a.m., and the seminar will run from 9 a.m.-1p.m. Attendees must have a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to enter the building.


Air BP acquires a stake in RocketRoute

International fuel supplier Air BP revealed at the Aero Friedrichshafen Show in Germany that it has formalized its relationship with RocketRoute by taking a minority stake in the global flight planning business.

The move strengthens the existing relationship between the two companies, which will enable them to continue developing new technology to simplify flight planning and fuel purchasing for private pilots, owners, operators and flight departments, according to Air BP officials.

In the coming months, RocketRoute, supported by Air BP, will be introducing new solutions for customers.

Caption: L-R Alexander Junge, Managing Director Northern Europe, Air BP and Uwe Nitsche, CEO RocketRoute at AERO Friedrichshafen
Alexander Junge, Managing Director Northern Europe, Air BP (left) and Uwe Nitsche, CEO RocketRoute at AERO Friedrichshafen
“Air BP is an integral part of the aviation supply chain, so we want to be able to offer our customers tools that enable them to operate more efficiently. The decision to invest in RocketRoute demonstrates the importance we attribute to the ability of technology to support this. We are delighted to be working even more closely with RocketRoute. Together we hope to create a product that will become a ‘must have’ in the aviation market,” said Norbert Kamp, Chief Commercial Officer, Air BP.

Air BP started working with RocketRoute in 2014 to incorporate information about Air BP’s worldwide fuel network.

RocketRouteRocketRoute is a cloud-based solution that works online, and via the RocketRoute app, on personal electronic devices. It integrates, into one service, a number of features, including flight planning, fuel purchasing, crew briefing, flight plan filing, dispatch and flight tracking.

Both Air BP and RocketRoute offer 24-hour support to customers, company officials add.