Phillip Henriques, Chairman of the JCAA and Leroy Lindsay, Senior Management Consultant at the Transport Ministry
The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) has disclosed that it has been operating on backup systems since the lightning strike on Friday which caused disruptions to its radar and communication systems.
Since then, there have been limited services in Jamaica's airspace.
There have been claims that backup systems could have prevented the shutdown of Jamaica's airspace.
Phillip Henriques, Chairman of the JCAA, addressed the concerns at Wednesday morning's Jamaica House Media Briefing.
"There are presently actual machinery backup systems as well as procedural backup systems. We are fully aware that from time to time a piece of machinery can fail so we may have to operate without all our machinery, so there are multiple backup systems," Mr. Henriques explained.
The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority has said there were also manual systems in place.
"But you have to bear in mind that in our business, safety is paramount. When you have no communications, manual can't help because you cannot talk to the aircraft to give them any procedural control. So between Friday evening and Saturday night, this was the situation. We had no communications that we could use to talk to the aircraft," said Leroy Lindsay, Senior Management Consultant at the Transport Ministry.
In the meantime, the JCAA is still faced with the problem of repairing the equipment from its old radar and communication systems which were damaged by the lightning strike. Parts will have to be sourced from overseas.
In addition, the JCAA is in the process of transitioning to a new system and air traffic controllers are still being trained.
"We have had to make lots of rearrangement and bringing in contingency teams and all the people and pulling in lots of different crew to just be able to maintain the airspace as we have had it from the 7(a.m.)-7(p.m.) and then make it up to 11(p.m.); and then hopefully by the end of today and tomorrow, we'll be able to bring in all flights and let out all flights without a problem," Mr. Henriques outlined.