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RCAF members conduct flight safety training for the Jamaica Defence Force

Major Jason Graveline, 1 Canadian Air Division Flight Safety

From 19-23 February 2024, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) members from the Flight Safety section of 1 Canadian Air Division Winnipeg conducted a Flight Safety Course (FSC) for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Air Wing at Up Park Camp in Kingston, Jamaica.  Tasked by the Directorate of Military Training and Cooperation (DMTC) Ottawa and led by the Division Flight Safety Officer (FSO), Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Wilf Rellinger, section staff eagerly welcomed the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with their Commonwealth colleagues.


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Planning for the serial commenced in the summer of 2023 with the final details being confirmed in January 2024.  With assistance provided by DMTC as well as the Canadian Defence Advisor and High Commission of Canada in Kingston, the team was well-supported for their mission.  The JDF Air Wing FSO served as the primary point of contact which facilitated excellent liaison and communications from planning to execution to post-course wash up.


Typically, the FSC is conducted in Winnipeg over nine training days and consists of lectures and practical exercises across a wide spectrum of topics including legislation, roles and responsibilities, program promotion, investigation theory, occurrence structure, individual and group behaviours, witness interviews, cause factor and preventive measure determination, databases, “Just Culture” and crash scene management.  On past occasions, members of the JDF have attended the FSC as individuals or in pairs. 


For the JDF serial, the course was compressed into five training days, eliminating Canadian-specific content and focusing on the key components of the Flight Safety Program, prevention and investigation, with a Jamaican audience in mind.  This resulted in a very aggressive training schedule - one that was enthusiastically embraced by the 20 JDF Officers and Other Ranks that comprised the training audience.


LCol Rellinger was immediately pleased: “It was obvious this was a very motivated and intelligent group.  Their engagement steadily increased as they fully appreciated the benefits of open reporting, detailed investigation and proactively identifying hazards.  My team and I were thoroughly impressed by their professionalism and competence”.


Section Warrant Officer, Master Warrant Officer (MWO) James Brown, reflected on the week: “We were honoured to be asked to conduct this training which provided an ideal environment for two groups of like-minded aviation professionals to learn about each other’s culture, military traditions and operating procedures.  It was an incredible experience, one that will have long-term benefits for both the JDF and the RCAF”.


The course included a major exercise where students were separated into four syndicates and tasked with independently investigating significant aircraft occurrences from the moment of initial report, through evidence gathering and analysis, to briefing their conclusions and recommendations.  The final challenge involved a crash exercise requiring syndicates to conduct a witness interview, a media interview and crash scene photography, measurements and sketching.  A JDF Bell 429 helicopter, with an array of parts and cowlings spread about the site by aircraft maintenance personnel to simulate wreckage, added a sense of reality to the simulation.


On completion of training, Air Wing Commanding Officer, LCol Syldan Thompson addressed the course and reinforced the significance of Flight Safety training and the newly acquired skill sets: “We have never had so many Flight Safety investigators as we have now.  This brings an important and increased capability to the JDF”.


An Air Wing Bell 429 helicopter was positioned in the hangar as a backdrop for the course graduation, with the Commandant of the Caribbean Military Aviation School, Major Osmar Fiddler, in attendance as the Guest of Honour.  LCol Rellinger provided words of encouragement and final remarks before presenting graduates with their certificates of achievement.  MWO Brown then awarded the students their Canadian Armed Forces Flight Safety Qualification patch.  As a gesture of gratitude, a member of the JDF Air Wing presented LCol Rellinger with an inscribed keepsake commemorating the week.  The serial concluded with course and syndicate photographs followed by an informal reception at the Jamaica Officers’ Club.


Team members from 1 Canadian Air Division Flight Safety included:  Lieutenant-Colonel Wilf Rellinger, Major Jason Graveline, Major Dan Klco, Captain Josh Paley and Master Warrant Officer James Brown.



About the Author: Major Jason Graveline enrolled in the Canadian Forces as a pilot in 1989 and has served as a Class A reservist at 1 Canadian Air Division Flight Safety since 2015.

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