The Air Traffic Control System at the PGIA will be getting a major overhaul. Today a contract was signed for the renovation of the Control Tower, the Radar control unit and other facilities on the premise. Now, most of you will remember the sick out at the PGIA in February of this year. The Air Traffic Controllers didn’t show up to work – shutting down all operations at the airport leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. They were unhappy with the working conditions and the low-grade equipment in the control tower. Well, this contract will address all those issues and more. Today a press conference was held at the Civil Aviation Department and the Director Lindsey Garbutt told us just how transformed and modernized the facility will be after the renovation is completed.

Works are expected to start early next year and will be finished in a year and a half. The contract is for $9 million.

Channel 7

COCESNA upgraded Belize’s Air Traffic Control Tower

Department of Civil Aviation to Receive Multi-Million $$$ Upgrade

Almost ten million dollars will be spent to improve systems at air traffic control. The signing of an agreement between three parties took place this morning at the Department of Civil Aviation office. The upgrade will place Belize among the top five countries presently using advance technology for aviation. Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The signing of an agreement between the Department of Civil Aviation, COCESNA, and Spanish information technology and defense systems company, Indra, for the upgrading ofBelize’s air traffic control mechanism will see a significant financial investment by all parties in the months ahead.

Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation

Manuel Heredia

“The Government of Belize and COCESNA are in the process of carrying out a nine point five million dollar project for a state-of-the-art modernization of our air traffic control tower, our radar, control center, our meteorological system, including all other associated components of the air traffic services systems.  Such modernization will immensely enhance the provisions of the air traffic services in Belize and is in line with the world’s huge technological advancement in air traffic management.”

The technology to be employed in the transformation of the existing air traffic control system will placeBelizeamong very few countries that are presently utilizing modern equipment in air navigation.

Enrique Castillo

Enrique Castillo, Dir., Latin America, Indra Systems

“Belize would be, I think, [amongst] one of the [top] three to five countries in the world to have this technology.  In the next few years it will be the standard.  We have been delivering air traffic control systems in over one hundred and forty countries for over ninety years so we have been long in the industry.  And Belize will share technology, air traffic management technology with countries such as China, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom and Spain, just to name a few.  So what will this technology translate into?  Belize will be able not only to maintain a high standard in safety for air navigation which is the most important role when you are managing air traffic but it will also become more efficient.”

The upgrade should see an economic boost since it is expected that more flights will be bound forBelizefrom various points of departure.

Jorge Vargas, Executive President, COCESNA

Jorge Vargas

“We’re doing a huge investment for Belize.  For the next five years, COCESNA is thinking, with the planning of Mr. Garbutt as a representative of the Belizean government on the board of COCESNA, to invest between twelve to fourteen million dollars in the next five years in Belize.  To accomplish requirements for safety and efficiency for the air navigation sector for the industry in Belize.  We note that this effort that COCESNA is doing is going to help and improve a lot the economy in this beautiful country which I’m very glad to be here today.”

According to Director of Civil Aviation, Lindsay Garbutt, the partnership with COCESNA on the forthcoming initiative has been two years in the making.

Lindsey Garbutt

Lindsey Garbutt, Director of Civil Aviation

“We have been working for the last two years with COCESNA to ensure, I guess probably more than any other industry, the civil  aviation industry lives off technology and the constant improvement of technology with a view of making it safer and more environmentally friendly.  So we were fortunate that we were among the first, along with Costa Rica to convince COCESNA to make this investment that they are going to make throughout the region.  We are looking at something, I guess in reference to what happened last year we certainly recognize that we need to bring our technology up to date so that our air traffic controllers can have the best possible situation as airlines move above and land and take off from Belize.  So this whole thing is to improve security and safety in our skies.”

Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Channel 5

Belize air traffic control system to get an upgrade

The Government of Belize signed a contract for the modernization of the Philip Goldson airport, which is being made possible through COCESNA (Central American Corporation for Air Navigation), of which Belize is a member. The upgrade will be done to the air traffic controls, the radar system and the meteorology services. On hand for the occasion were Jorge Vargas, executive president of COCESNA; Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation; Lindsay Garbutt, Director of Civil Aviation, and Enrique Castillo, Director of Latin America Affairs for Indra Systems.

Minister Heredia said in his address, “Today marks a very important day for civil aviation in Belize, because we will be signing a contract with Indra Systems, an international equipment supplier from Spain. The government of Belize and COCESNA are in the process of carrying out a 9.5 million dollar- project for a state of the art modernization of our air traffic control center, radar system, meteorological system and all other associated equipment of the air traffic control system.”

Lindsay Garbutt, Director of Civil Aviation, told the media that Belize and Costa Rica are the first recipients of the investment by COCESNA in the improvement of their air traffic controls, and this investment is something that will be made throughout the region. Garbutt pointed out that not only will the control systems be upgraded, but senior personnel will be sent to Spain to get training and to ensure that the system is compatible with what is already in place in order to optimize the functioning of Belize’s air traffic control.

Jorge Vargas, executive president of COCESNA, in his remarks said that their investment of approximately $14 million will mean that Belize will be able to meet the safety requirements for air traffic control.

Enrique Castillo, Director of Latin America Affairs for Indra Systems of Spain, in his address said that Belize will be one of the five countries in the world to have the latest technology in air traffic control. Castillo said that he was glad that they could upgrade a system that they had installed 10 years ago. Castillo expressed his appreciation to COCESNA for consistently utilizing their latest technology and making them available to all their member states.

Heredia added, “The modernization will immensely enhance the provisions of the air traffic services in Belize and is in line with the world’s huge technological advancements in air traffic management. Such service is provided in accordance with the national standards set out in Annex 2 of the Convention of International Civil Aviation, of which Belize is a contracted state.”