“Why isn’t mummy here?”
This is a question that often comes from the tiny lips of four-year-old Danielle Ramsoomair.
With the signing of a collaboration agreement between US-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean nation moved one step closer to becoming a regional leader in the aviation industry.
Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced the signing during the International Air and Space Fair (FIDAE) in Santiago, Chile, according to a release from industry site Helihub. Sikorsky provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide.
Under the agreement, Sikorsky's participation may include providing expertise in maintenance training and technical know-how, including “train-the-trainer” proficiency, as well as exploring future partnerships with operators for student internships and on-the-job training.
“A centre of excellence in the entire Caribbean and Latin America, the Trinidad and Tobago Aviation Institute will offer our students, and those throughout the region, an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a career in aviation. Our vision is to make Trinidad and Tobago the regional hub of Aviation,” said Senator the Honorable Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training.
On March 10, Karim's ministry celebrated the start of construction for the country’s first aviation institute, which is scheduled to open in September.
According to Helihub, eight Sikorsky S-76 rotorcraft currently operate in Trinidad and Tobago, with plans for expansion in the near future. This includes Sikorsky’s newest commercial helicopter, the S-76D aircraft. Trinidad and Tobago's National Helicopter Services Ltd. (NHSL) flew the first-ever revenue service flight for this type of aircraft in February. NHSL, formerly the Air Division (Helicopter Unit) of the Ministry of National Security, is a joint venture between the T&T government and the National Gas Company.
Adam Schierholz, Sikorsky Deputy Regional Executive for Latin America, said, "Sikorsky is proud to have been a part of Trinidad and Tobago's helicopter operations for more than 30 years. We have a tremendous partner in National Helicopter Services, and we are extremely pleased to be able to further explore with them this exciting new chapter in the country’s continued development of its aviation industry. This Institute will provide expert training of technical personnel in the areas of maintenance and engineering, and Sikorsky is eager to discuss the potential opportunities for support."