Honduran Air Force Trains Central American Pilots
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo October 27, 2016In a series of aviation trainings to increase the effectiveness of crews and ensure security in the area, the Honduran Air Force (FAH, per its Spanish acronym) trains pilots from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The courses are part of the coordination and mutual aid among the air forces of the Conference of Central American Armed Forces (CFAC, per its Spanish acronym). The program also contributes to the defense against threats, the military development and integration of the region, as well as humanitarian aid operations. It is a three-week regional training program. Training is provided by the FAH at its Hernán Acosta Mejía Air Base in Tegucigalpa. Flight crews of the member countries train, among other things, on aviation safety, crew resource management, and instrument flight procedures. "The goal is to increase the effectiveness of regional military pilots and make them aware of the value of human and technical factors in the aeronautical environment," Aviation Colonel José Luis Sauceda, general commander of the Honduran Air Force said to Diálogo. "We will thus fulfill assigned missions with high safety standards. Our resources are very valuable, and we have to take care of them, especially our human resources," he added. Learning to teach Participants share their experiences and cooperate in aerial safety procedures where human error could be catastrophic. They also are involved in decision making in the cockpit, interpersonal communication techniques, and leadership in flight. In addition, they assist in aerial navigation and instrument procedures. The military pilot training programs are developed by FAH and taught by highly qualified officers who receive training at specialized centers or schools in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of the Honduran instructors, since 2014, a total of 131 aviation officers have enriched their aeronautical knowledge. One hundred and seven of them are members of the FAH. For Honduran Defense Secretary Samuel Reyes Rendon, the FAH is a reference of international integration. "We should stress that the Honduran Air Force, which turned 85 years old today, is the benchmark for the region. Trained pilots, proper tools, and the ability to protect our airspace are the benchmark for our Central American region,” Secretary Reyes said at the Air Force’s 85th anniversary celebration at the Hernán Acosta Mejía Air Base on April 15th. “Every one of our Air Force commanders has put in their best effort to maintain this [model] relationship all this time." The training has a multiplier effect. To perfect their aerial safety procedures, young pilots pass on the lessons learned to new generations of crews from their countries. Cooperation is the key Aviation personnel that has been trained and brought to current standards play an important role in tactical search and rescue missions, humanitarian operations, natural disaster assistance, and other emergency situations. If necessary, they deliver medications and organize evacuations. They also participate in protecting the environment and fighting forest fires. "All technical support provided to the Central American armed forces to decrease the probability of accidents during air operations is appropriate," said Sandino Asturias, director of the Center for Guatemalan Studies. "The challenge is to maintain stability among trained personnel. In other words, not to assign someone to a unit that is not connected with the program so that they can really contribute to preserving the operational capacity of the forces." "The FAH understands that working as a team and in joint operations is the only way we can counter all the transnational threats that affect our people so much," said Col. Sauceda. "For that we need to always have permanent trust-building measures among our countries' air forces."