Govt. working on law change to help airport reclaim Cat. 1 status

AIRPORT–The Ministry of Transportation TEATT is finalising the legislative changes needed and the establishment of the licensing division needed by Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to obtain International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating. The airport currently holds a Category 2 rating.

TEATT Minister Cornelius de Weever announced the ongoing work in the recent 2018 budget debate in response to questions from United St. Maarten Party Member of Parliament (MP) Roland Brison.

De Weever also stated that the 2018 budget includes “sufficient funds” to help PJIA attain United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 rating.

PJIA and Curaçao’s Hato International Airport received Category 2 ratings from the FAA in January 2012 and have remained that way until now. That rating means air carriers will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States, but can continue existing service. Both countries previously had Category 1 ratings as part of the Netherlands Antilles.

A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

As part of the FAA’s rating programme, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to fly to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, not FAA regulations.

ICAO is the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance. Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to ICAO safety standards.

On the renewal of pilots’ licences, De Weever said St. Maarten is going through a transition period in taking over issuance from Curaçao. All other related licences and certificates already are issued locally. “Validations are being done here in St. Maarten now and not by Curaçao, which was the case in the past,” he said.

Aircraft are now registered by St. Maarten under the registration prefix of Curaçao and St. Maarten. Government via TEATT has sent a request to the Netherlands for St. Maarten to acquire its own prefix.

Source: The Daily Herald