Jamaican aircraft technicians to be trained at home

By RON FANFAIR

It’s the end of an era for Jamaican soldiers engaged in basic and advanced aircraft maintenance technician training at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology at Canadian Force Base (CFB) Borden.

The last batch of four Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers – Corporals Calverton Blagrove, Tauwee McLean, Oraine Bailey and Samando Scott – graduated last month from the 28-year-old Military Assistance Training Program (MATP).

Aspiring aircraft technicians will now train at the state-of-the-art Jamaica Military Aviation School (JMAC) at Norman Manley International Airport. The facility was launched in 2006 with assistance from Canada.

JDF instructor Major Oswald Brown said many of the highly trained graduates are now doing exceptional work in the aviation industry in Jamaica, Canada and other parts of the world.

“This program has provided our people with opportunities to become the best there is when it comes to aircraft maintenance and other technical aspects of the sector,” Brown, who has been with the JDF for the last 36 years, told Share. “We have got people as far away as Sydney, Australia working as technicians with major airlines.”

Graduates were required to spend a minimum of five years with the JDF before exploring other job opportunities.

Danny Campbell, a member of the first batch of trainees in 1982, was a training manager at Bombardier Aerospace for nine years before entering Concordia University to pursue Certified Internal Auditor and Quality Manager/Organizational Excellence certifications and complete his MBA in Aviation. He’s now a program director at Montreal-based Execaire, which is one of North America’s oldest and most prestigious corporate aircraft companies.

“The training was very intense when I came to Canada 28 years ago to do the program,” said Campbell who has lived in Canada since 1988. “I learned a lot and it provided the foundation for me to be where I am today as a senior executive in a Canadian aviation company.”

The first batch also included Livon Shreves who has been an engine line inspector with Rolls Royce in Montreal for the past 15 years.

“It was a new experience for me and other members of the group because we were coming to a new country from a warm climate at the beginning of fall,” he said. “At the time, we trained in New Brunswick which was cold and there were not many Jamaicans or West Indians there.

“The training I received gave me the start and basic knowledge that I now have and am able to use.”

Rolls Royce is the world’s second largest maker of aircraft engines behind General Electric. The company is recognized in Canada for its expertise in engineering, repair and overhaul in the aerospace and energy sectors.

Roy Francis did the basic course in Canada in 1983 and returned two years later for advanced training.

“What I gained from those programs was high quality training that I have been able to use in my professional career,” said Francis who has lived in New York for the past six years. He works full-time with a power company and part-time in the aviation industry.

The MATP started in Chatham, New Brunswick before moving to Bagotville in Quebec and then Borden.

A total of 250 Jamaican soldiers have graduated from the program.

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