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Government moves to expand aviation field

Thursday, April 4, 2013
Homwatie Ramlal, Avionics Technician at Bristow Helicopters and Jamie Balbosa, Avionics Technician at NHSL, speak with Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, Senator Fazal Karim, as they view a helicopter engine during the launch of the Avionics Trainee Engineer Programme and first training programme of the Aviation Institute, at the National Helicopter Services Limited Hangar, Camden field, Couva yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

Minister of Tertiary Education Fazal Karim says T&T is moving towards fulfilling a global shortage of avionics engineers, mechanics and technicians by introducing a bachelor of science degree in aviation technology. Speaking at the launch of an avionics programme at the National Helicopter Service Ltd, Camden, Couva, yesterday, Karim said he planned to introduce a range of courses via the University of T&T, in the fields of avionic electronics, radio communication and navigation, and airport operation management. 



Sixteen students were enrolled in the programme for the aircraft maintenance engineer licence, which will enable them to get licences to maintain aircraft. Karim described T&T as a Caribbean leader in the aviation industry, and said the new avionics courses will be approved under the Government Assistance for Tertiary Education (Gate). He said under the PNM, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning wanted to set up a Caribbean Airlines maintenance facility in Grenada. However, he said plans are afoot to build the facility in T&T.


“We are thinking, why not set it up right here because the aviation industry holds potential for development for our citizens,” Karim said. He said the Government was expanding its fleet of helicopters and airplanes. Karim said there was potential for citizens to acquire jobs with the T&T Air Guard, and Caribbean Airlines. “We must create opportunities for our children so that they can find jobs in this country,” he said.


“There is a demand for aviation engineers throughout the world. Some countries lack apprenticeship programmes in aviation and we are hoping that within a short space of time we will have an On-the-Job aviation programme so that our children can work in the Air Guard and the airports.” Karim said it usually costs a student more than $100,000 to get a licence, but because of government’s subsidisation, students will pay only $8,000 for the accredited programme.


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