By Brittany Brewster
The lack of a structured training programme is stifling the development of the aviation industry in Barbados, says Director at the Barbados Light Aeroplane Club Christopher Codrington.
He explained that the Flight Training Institute Inc. was the only pilot school in Barbados and did not have the capacity to train young pilots to fly large aircraft, forcing them to seek training elsewhere.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, he said there was room for growth in the industry but the lack of opportunities was a major setback for young pilots.
“I think we have a large crop of young aviators who would really appreciate having the opportunities closer to home…If we could work in a cohesive manner to have the schools working along with the airlines, we could do what is known as a flow-through programme whereby once you apply for flight school you are guaranteed an interview with an airline. It is kind of an incentive for young aviators to go to flight school because they know when they are finished they have a position waiting for them,” he said.
Codrington also said he wanted the Government to offer aviation management courses at the University of the West Indies or the SJPI in conjunction with the Flight Training Institute to eliminate the significant brain drain the country is experiencing.
Nonetheless, he credited the Government for making positive strides since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to revive and boost the industry through the proposed implementation of an aviation authority – a move which he believes has the potential to benefit the country.
“An aviation authority would allow us to be able to have more control and regulation and it would open more opportunities for us as a country.
“We would be able to achieve a category one status for our aerodrome, which would allow us to have airlines based here that can operate into certain territories,” Codrington said.
“I think that aviation in Barbados, given the correct direction and focus, would be able to benefit everyone, and by having our own airline we will be able to offer a greater value for money not only for Barbadians, but citizens of CARICOM as well,” he added.
Codrington said the industry is still reeling from many pilots leaving as a result of the pandemic. However, he believes that with attention and investment, there are areas in aviation which can generate more revenue for the country
as it relates to tourism.
“I believe that we should be able to showcase the island from the air especially considering a lot of tourists come to the Caribbean seeking unique experiences. For example, when you go to Martinique they offer a skydiving programme and I think we can tap into that untapped market. It is a very, very rich market. It’s ripe for growth as well and I think that if we paid more attention to it, it could reap very favourable results,” he stated.
As for the role of the Barbados Light Aeroplane Club, he is hoping to renew interest in aviation and the work of Errol Walton Barrow who founded and built the club in 1951 with the hosting of the first open day in two years on Saturday, 21st January, Errol Barrow Day.
“From a patriotic point of view, being a part of the open day is enough to pay tribute to Errol Barrow’s work and his contribution to the flight club during his time,” he said.
Codrington is hoping to raise funds for renovations of the club’s main hanger, and build a public viewing deck while also making improvements that he believes can contribute to Barbados’ tourism product.
Additionally, during Saturday’s activities, he plans to expose the public to aviation in a meaningful way through demonstrations, flight simulations, and introductory flights which he believes will encourage them to be more involved in the industry and possibly pursue a career in that field.
Information on the Barbados Light Aeroplane Club or the Flight institute Barbados Inc. may be found on the website https://ftibarbados.com/ brittanybrewster