Jamaica Builds Regional Hub for Pilot Training

Jamaica Builds Regional Hub for Pilot Training

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
April 27, 2018

The Jamaica Military Aviation School wants to be the regional hub for training military pilots.

Gostaria saber custo total do curso de helicóptero The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Air Wing flies over the Jamaican sky for different missions. It undertakes counter narcotics operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions among its many duties. To better accomplish its mission, JDF inaugurated the Caribbean Military Aviation School (CMAS) in 2007, to train local and international pilots and serve as a regional hub for military pilot training.

“Our mission is to deliver quality aviation training Jamaicans and our regional counterparts,” said JDF Major Brandon Chambers, commandant of CMAS, who assumed command after having been an instructor and an alumnus of the school. “No one else in the region offers the kind of training we offer.”

CMAS, originally named Jamaican Military Aviation School, was founded in December 2006 at the JDF Air Wing installations of the Norman Manley International Airport, in Kingston. In August 2012 the school adopted its current name to appeal to a wider audience. The department of Aircraft Technician Training was added to complement the curriculum.

“We have been incorporating our regional partners, so our school is growing as we are increasing the number of courses we conduct per year,” added Maj. Chambers. CMAS has accepted students from Belize, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Trinidad and Tobago, among other nations.

Regional capability

“The school builds regional capabilities. It fosters not only diplomatic relations between governments but also militaries,” said JDF Captain Caniggia Harrison, a flight instructor at CMAS. “It’s very good to build relationships here [at the school], but we also have one common goal as we move forward in building regional security.”

Capt. Harrison knows first-hand the demands of training at the school. He, too, became a pilot there. “I got the perspective as a student. Now, I am seeing things from the other side of the fence as an instructor.”

CMAS offers flight, rotary wing, multi-engine, and helicopter training. The courses, Pilot Selection, Primary Flight Training, Primary Flight Training-Extended, and Flight Instructor are conducted on the DA-40FP single engine aircraft. The Rotary Wing, Basic Helicopter, and Flight Instructor courses are conducted on the Bell 206B3 single engine aircraft, while the Multi-Engine Training and Multi-Engine Instructor courses are conducted on the DA-42 L360. The Primary Flight Training and Extended DA-40 Flight Instructor courses, and all multi-engine courses include simulator training on a Diamond DA-42 flight-training aircraft. Courses take up to 11 months, depending on weather conditions, which can extend the duration of each course.

According to students, being a diverse school with students and instructors from the Caribbean region is a plus for the military forces. “Being in this school means a lot to me because I have a great commitment to my country,” said Guatemalan Air Force Lieutenant Adán Josué Barrera Valenzuela, a current student at the Primary Flight Training Extended course. “In my country, we don’t have the advanced technology they have here with the Diamond DA-42 aircraft. For me it’s very important to learn, gain knowledge, and take it back to Guatemala.”

CMAS students train in modern facilities to graduate as military winged pilots. Theoretical training is taught in a traditional classroom setting using electronic-based learning resources, while flight mission briefs are delivered in rooms that facilitate one-on-one instruction. The staff comprises military personnel, including Jamaican and Belizean flight instructors, while support staff comes from different JDF units. CMAS also aims to provide students with civilian licenses to meet certain countries’ requirements for their military pilots to obtain civilian qualification in order to operate military aircraft.

The instructors, installations, and academic resources are equivalent to the professional standards of other international aviation schools, according to students and instructors. “The environment here is very good, the aircraft are great, and the material for the students can be easily observed,” said Belize Defence Force Captain Elder Correa, a student at CMAS’s Diamond DA-42 instructor course. “It has been a great experience to be part of this school,” said Capt. Correa. “The air space in Jamaica is different from my country, and it gives us a lot of experience and hours of training.”

CMAS is Jamaica’s contribution to regional and international security. “International cooperation is working quite well,” said Maj. Chambers. “A very good testament to that is the level of professionalism between the students and instructors from the various countries.”