AIRPORT--Princess Juliana International Airport SXM is now certified as an air traffic controller Approved Training Organisation. The training academy recently received certification from the St. Maarten Civil Aviation Authority.
This was revealed by new Air Traffic Training and Development Services Manager at Airport SXM Duncan van Heyningen during Tuesday’s session of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference.
He gave a complete overview of the operations of the new school and the Airport. He started off his presentation with the Airport’s vision statement and mentioned that St. Maarten’s geographical location in the Caribbean is ideal as an airline hub for nearby Caribbean island destinations, as a sheltered seaport (by way of its lagoon) for boats of all sizes and as a tourist destination for visitors from North, South and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.
Airport SXM is recognised as The International Airport for the Caribbean sub-region comprising Sint Maarten/Saint Martin and its seven country hub-partners. The Airport’s Air Traffic Service (ATS) has a staff of 32 professionals of whom 24 are licensed Air Traffic Controllers. Each controller is in possession of Procedural Aerodrome (Tower) and Approach Ratings, with approximately half also holding a Surveillance (Radar) Rating. Other staff include Director, Manager, Administrator and Flight Information Officers.
During peak periods, the Airport’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) is split into Procedural Aerodrome and Surveillance Approach. However, when Surveillance (Radar) approach is not active, APP/TWR traffic is combined and worked from the Control Tower.
According to Van Heyningen, “ATS handles an average of 90,000 movements a year with our peak movements handled reaching 110K in 2007 (before world economic crash); 65-70 per cent of all movements land or take off from the Airport.
“The remaining traffic either lands or takes off from the other five airports within our TMA or are overflights transitioning our airspace. SXM Airport has a total of four jet bridges and five hard stands designated for wide-bodied aircraft, with an additional 11 published parking positions for light/medium aircraft.”
Additional aircraft parking is available East of the main ramp, G-ramp and H-ramp and West at the cargo ramp.
“Combined with our cruise arrivals, the island averages more than three million visitors a year. According to Sint Maarten’s Central Bureau of Statistics, SXM Airport and its users account for roughly 60 per cent of Sint Maarten’s GDP [gross domestic product – Ed.],” stated Van Heyningen.
The first-ever Basic ATC Course given by local instructors commenced in May 2016 and is currently in the simulator stage. The students were selected from a total of 97 applicants by aptitude testing, interviews, class three medical assessment and psychological assessment.
This course is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2017.
“When we determined that our goal was to establish a training academy, we knew that the purchase of an ATC simulator was necessary. Fact-finding visits to Orlando and Madrid resulted in selecting Adacel as our ATC simulator provider. In February 2016 Adacel installed our MaxSim ATC simulator on the ground floor of our ATC facilities,” said Van Heyningen.
He also said the academy had received its Approved Training Organisation (ATO) certification recently from the local Civil Aviation Authority.
“This certification allows our academy to train personnel in all authorised courses that are contained within the ATO. This brings us one step closer to attaining our goal of having our own facilities for local, regional and international training,” he added.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Train-air Plus certification will be instrumental in obtaining the international stamp of approval for the training programme and will put the training academy in a great position to provide regional and international clients with certified and internationally recognised courses.
Securing regional and international clients stands to increase the non-aeronautical revenues for Airport SXM, eventually allowing the training academy to run a self-sufficient operation. At the same time it opens up other financial options and bargaining power for the Airport due to lower overhead/fixed cost and increased revenues.
Adding International Air Transport Association (IATA) courses to the inventory will also generate local client revenue, as airlines and handlers will not have to send employees abroad for certain courses.
“It is our goal to obtain our Train-air Plus certification by the third or fourth quarter of 2018, with instructors receiving their certification by the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Van Heyningen in his presentation.