The CARIBAVIA Vision for Caribbean Airlift

March 13, 2023 10:53 am

by Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

A vision is a catalyst to raise aspirations for what can become, and to release energies to get there. In 2015, a visiting British aviation journalist suggested to me that I would be the designated person to create a Caribbean Business Aviation Association. Knowing the complexities and issues in the region, I rejected the suggestion. Instead, I considered it to be wiser to create results and solutions-oriented communication platforms on airlift, and gather the stakeholders in the region to explore how to proceed and with who.

For that purpose, I organized the 1st annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup in 2016 which was held in Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica. Thereafter the Meetups were held in Nassau, Bahamas, and on St.Maarten/St. Martin (four times).

CARIBAVIA brings industries together.
‘Airlift’ is the common denominator of the interests of stakeholders in the aviation, tourism, business development, and investment industries. It is equally important to government decision-makers. CARIBAVIA brings them all together for better understanding and increased collaboration. Matters like inter-island transportation and trade, dilemmas, and opportunities require increased attention since they are needed to prepare for future changes in the region.

CARIBAVIA is formatted and shaped towards the current needs and the future opportunities in the Caribbean region is a dynamic process. Foresight and a view beyond current situations are essential. By heightening the level of communication between all stakeholders, the issues are amplified. The exploration of new ways and means to improve air transportation and the positive impact on the economies and communities of the Caribbean region will be intensified. CARIBAVIA focuses on rising the quality and value of the content of presentations and information. Besides informing, much attention will be given to the development of education and training.

It is not enough!
Just organizing an annual conference event is like operating a circus, yet instead of hopping from town-to-town, it hops from year-to-year. There needs to be more and more meaningful. It must lead to a long-term objective.

After having successfully organized the Caribbean Aviation Meetup six times, I do have a clear picture of what is, what is needed, and what the opportunities are to serve the Caribbean region in the future. The time stretch between now and reaching the ultimate goal of a Vision is only depending on passion, commitment, support, and cooperation.

CARIBAVIA’s Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of the CARIBAVIA Vision is twofold.
1. CARIBAVIA Institute of Higher Learning
2. CARIBAVIA Airlift Council

It started with a conference:
• CARIBAVIA, Caribbean Aviation Meetup

The next steps toward the ultimate goal are:
• CARIBAVIA TV, a video-on-demand platform
• CARIBAVIA educational and training events
• CARIBAVIA Learning Resource Center
• CARIBAVIA Tele-Presence and Tele-Immersion Facility
• CARIBAVIA Research and Development Center

The first phase was to create that platform for communication, the conference which will go by the brand name CARIBAVIA and it is growing in popularity and importance. CARIBAVIA is not just a Conference anymore. Because of the characteristics of the event, it will be renamed to CARIBAVIA Summit & Retreat. Summit stands for a top meeting of leaders. Retreat relates to an undisturbed time to get back on track, re-energized, and focused. The event is held in an exotic tropical Caribbean environment, rather than in a metropolitan location adds to the appeal. The word conference is used everywhere and all the time for gatherings of people, be it live, or nowadays increasingly virtual. CARIBAVIA Summit & Retreat shall be an innovative conference model with added benefits for the audience, speakers, and sponsors. It will be reasonably priced for participants and cost-effective for sponsors. CARIBAVIA Summit & Retreat shall always remain CARIBAVIA’s flagship event. It shall be a sustainable development in conferencing that will be unique and stand out and it shall be the ‘mouthpiece’ of CARIBAVIA’s symbolic and philosophical values.

In 2023, the 7th annual CARIBAVIA Summit & Retreat will be held June 13-15 in St.Maarten, Dutch Caribbean. Workshops or side events may be held around the main event.

CARIBAVIA-TV will be developed as an online video-on-demand platform to air and stream audio-visual
presentations. Recording the presentations of the conference and making them available for larger audiences is a logical step. Separate from the presentation, professionals of interest may be interviewed. As part of the conference, workshops will be held. These may also be video recorded. Contrary to webinars and live streaming, video-on-demand productions related to aviation, airlift, and travel matters in the Caribbean region and beyond can be viewed at any convenient time, by individuals or audiences worldwide. With the development of CARIBAVIA-TV, online educational programs will be created.

CARIBAVIA educational and training events
Learning will raise the levels of competence and capability. CARIBAVIA will arrange for workshops and other educational and training events. There will be a need for classrooms for the workshops that are not held during the annual conference. CARIBAVIA also aims to develop a pedagogical platform on the

As the task of CARIBAVIA is growing and the activities are increasing, the organization needs to have shelter and domicile. It needs office space, classroom facilities, and a studio for video production. It may begin with providing CARIBAVIA with a location that may initially become a Learning Resource Center. However, it is possible that CARIBAVIA may operate from more than one location depending on the kind of activities that will be carried out. From within the facilities of the CARIBAVIA CENTER
• the annual CARIBAVIA SUMMIT & RETREAT will be organized.
• the CARIBAVIA-TV online video-on-demand platform activities will be executed.
• the CARIBAVIA educational and training events will be organized.

CARIBAVIA Public Outreach
The CARIBAVIA Learning Resource Center shall establish an Education and Public Outreach program created to advance awareness and understanding of all issues dealt with in the various CARIBAVIA activity segments. The CARIBAVIA Outreach Program aims to maintain contact with the community at
regular intervals. The program shall become a powerful information and education platform to serve a wide range of audiences. Since the Outreach Program is a variation of focused public affairs activities that are specific to education and dissemination of information, its programs shall include:
• Awareness, skill-building, activity, and/or classroom supplements.
• Create volunteer opportunities.
• Student or community-based contests and awards.

CARIBAVIA Speakers Bureau
The CARIBAVIA Learning Resource Center shall also manage a ‘Speakers Bureau' which will be a roster of associated or visiting professional speakers and presentations that are available to audiences of various community groups (e.g., Schools, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Libraries, Community Events, etc.) with the intention of informing, inspiring, and motivating an audience.

To combine classroom with remote classroom education, Tele-Presence shall be accommodated. Tele-Presence is a technology that will enable users in different geographic locations to come together in a simulated environment to interact. The rooms on either side look the same to deliver the illusion that meeting participants in two or more sites at completely different locations are in the same room. Persons are life-size on the screens. Participants will feel like they are actually looking, talking, and meeting with each other face-to-face in the same room.

Tele-immersion goes one step further. It involves the construction of a three-dimensional (3D), realistic holographic environment. Existing video conferencing applications lack this dimensionality and realism. Participants at geographically remote sites can collaborate in real-time in a shared, simulated, hybrid environment submerging in one another's presence and feeling as if they are sharing the same physical space. Tele-immersive systems significantly change educational, scientific, and manufacturing paradigms. Having 3D reconstructed 'real' objects coupled with 3D virtual objects can be crucial for the successful fulfillment of the tasks. Some tasks would not be possible to complete without having such a combination of sensory information.

Users can also interact with shared non-existent virtual objects placed in the environment with them. To achieve this effect, computers are used that recognize the presence and movements of individuals and objects, track those individuals and images, and reconstruct them onto one stereo-immersive surface. 3D reconstruction for tele-immersion is performed using stereo, which means two or more stereo (depth) cameras take rapid sequential shots of the same object, continuously performing distance calculations, and projecting them into the computer-simulated environment, so as to replicate real-time movement.

The development of a CARIBAVIA R&D Center is a crucial element to contribute to the development and dissemination of new rigorous evidence and innovative products, methods, or technologies that provide practical solutions to issues, confrontations, and problems that must not be overlooked in the Caribbean.
CARIBAVIA R&D Center shall be the place where scientists and engineers will meet, plan, investigate, and test methods, technologies, and products typical for the Caribbean region (e.g. interisland trade and transportation, archipelago geography, small island issues, hurricane impact, etc.). The Caribbean may be a test ground or laboratory for studying any kind of impact of its entire or its individual components, as well as how extreme external conditions may be of impact. The conclusions and solutions may be applied in other regions worldwide with geographic or socio-economic similarities. The findings may in their turn encourage other positive developments which will support economic and industrial advances and may benefit humanity and the environment.

Complex projects that the CARIBAVIA R&D Center is involved in, shall have the interest of multiple industry stakeholders. They will be interested to cooperate and find innovative solutions. It represents an opportunity whereby new products or services may complement the existing ones in a united effort. On the one hand, it will be a donation by the industry to a good cause, on the other hand, it is an opportunity to develop innovations that may result in new business opportunities.

It may be wise for interested stakeholders to invest in the developments of the CARIBAVIA R&D Center as it becomes a test lab where new materials and innovative techniques will be experienced.

The CARIBAVIA R&D Center shall have simulators used for training purposes with sets of controls. designed to provide a realistic imitation of complex systems or operations. Foreseen are:
• Aircraft simulator
• Air traffic control simulator

Periodical CARIBAVIA ThinkTank Summits shall be organized to establish new relations and gather fresh knowledge that will support the implementation of current projects and provide inspiration and feedback for additional and future projects.

The CARIBAVIA R&D Center will:
• provide leadership in defining research and development directions within its topic areas.
• attract scientists, engineers, and students to visit the location.
• be subject to worldwide media exposure of new development or discovery function as an educational resource center.
• create opportunities for cooperation with other educational institutions of various levels for the
• development of new dedicated programs and conducting supplemental research.
• extend the dissemination of its findings through online educational and informational offerings.
• inspire the future plans of young people in the community and region.
It is envisioned that the CARIBAVIA R&D Center shall find its own place in the international community of Research and Development Centers.

Through the development of the CARIBAVIA education programs, the CARIBAVIA Learning Resource Center, and the CARIBAVIA Research and Development Center, the organization shall be prepared to become an Institute of Higher Learning.

CARIBAVIA associates and the participants in all activities will be some of the best scientists, engineers, industry experts, and other respected professionals from any thinkable segment and function that covers airlift in a wider sense. The CARIBAVIA Institute of Higher Learning shall maintain high levels of academic and scientific accuracy while employing best educational practices. The CARIBAVIA Institute programs shall touch on subjects varying from air traffic control to airport management, aviation safety to aircraft crew training, from destination marketing to client/passenger services.

Multi-semester programs with recognized certification and ultimately accreditation shall be offered. Students from the region can stay in their region to be educated and trained on matters that affect the region and shall become members of a highly qualified and competent workforce that will serve the region.

Brain drain in the region shall be exchanged for brain gain. The CARIBAVIA Institute shall also appeal to students from abroad to come to the Caribbean to learn about subjects that cover unique professional skill circumstances and a unique work environment.

CARIBAVIA Airlift Council is an independent and impartial entity with neither political ambitions nor geographical limitations. Caribbean Airlift Council recognizes that airlift is of critical importance to the economic and social development and well-being of the communities of the Caribbean region. All aviation and travel segments in the Caribbean region have similar interests and have similar hurdles to deal with. There is also a common interest among tourism and hospitality stakeholders. Airlift is the common denominator of both industries.

The Caribbean Airlift Council aims to stimulate the growth and improvement of airlift, identify, and remove unnecessary impediments, and improve the air transportation methods and services to, from, and between the territories of the Caribbean, in order to accelerate the sustainable positive economic and social development in the region. It shall initiate and establish partnerships, community platforms, strategies, and educational programs to support airlift development that is needed for creating a relevant international market and business environment, and that fulfills the need for affordable uncomplicated air transportation serving the Caribbean communities.

CARIBAVIA Airlift Council aims to establish a relationship of understanding, trust, and professionality in meetings with industry representatives as well as government authorities.

CARIBAVIA Airlift Council shall be available for
• independent consulting
• finding interdepartmental comprehensive solutions
• functions similar to those of a court of arbitration in case of conflicting situations

Governments of the various territories, especially the smaller ones, are in need of specialized expertise available for the planning and implementation of their projects, and often consultants are hired at a high expense. CARIBAVIA Airlift Council may be approached by government authorities to assist in finding the most appropriate consulting or development companies. CARIBAVIA Airlift Council may assist by giving preliminary evaluations, providing an impartial non-binding second opinion, or assisting in the supervision of a project. CARIBAVIA Airlift Council may be approached for making feasibility studies or impact projections.

CARIBAVIA Airlift Council will follow needs, standards, and requirements, yet apply innovative concepts to make propositions and recommendations to the best of its knowledge and to find optimal solutions. They will be based on the expertise and competence of its CARIBAVIA associates and professionals. Major public or industry associations are not quite able to deal with airlift matters and dilemmas of the Caribbean because they may be too specialized and represent only one, or just a part of one industry segment. Too often the Subregion Caribbean is categorized under ‘Latin America and Caribbean’ or ‘North America and Caribbean’, yet the region has its own unique complexities and dilemmas. Subsequently, the region is treated as a stepchild. CARIBAVIA Airlift Council aims to offer a solution. CARIBAVIA AIRLIFT COUNCIL shall be the umbrella entity of all CARIBAVIA activities and represent the airlift interests of all the various stakeholders in the Caribbean.

Positive impact of CARIBAVIA on local economy and employment
The CARIBAVIA projects will have a positive economic impact on the location where it will have its domicile. The various CARIBAVIA activities (conferences, think tanks, workshops) may result in a form of education and science tourism as visitors will need accommodations to stay overnight. The projects will need a number of local employees. However, it should be clear that the project requires the involvement of highly qualified topic-specific professionals from abroad who are needed and able to assist in projects on location. Having these professionals on location will provide an opportunity to motivate young local talent and to prepare them for a future career. CARIBAVIA aims to observe the principles of gender equality.

CARIBAVIA impact on young people
The envisioned CARIBAVIA Learning Resource Center and the Research and Development Center are sources of knowledge and information that can be an inspiration for young people to become involved or be encouraged to look at educational opportunities that will have a significant impact on their future careers and subsequently a high-income level. CARIBAVIA intends to share as much as possible with the local community through developing educational presentations and programs, as well as through supporting social interactive events. CARIBAVIA aims to appeal to young people’s curiosity, their taste for exploration and discovery, and their pioneering spirit.

Investment interest
Well-educated and trained individuals are the human capital of a location or region. The availability of human capital is one of the premises for foreign investment. The presence of institutions such as the CARIBAVIA R&D Center and the CARIBAVIA Institute for Higher Learning makes it more interesting as the industry is looking for innovation and progressing intelligence.

CARIBAVIA media exposure and promotion
The uniqueness of the CARIBAVIA projects will find media exposure worldwide from which the domicile location will benefit with an image of being progressive, attractive tourism, and a potential foreign investment destination. Because the CARIBAVIA projects will result in new frequent research findings, progress in development, and its conferences and educational events, the reports will be covered by general and industry subject-specific media (aviation, tourism, economy, education, etc.). CARIBAVIA shall be considered a gift and asset to its hosting communities and its supporting associates and friends, and especially to the younger generation that will be prepared to conceive and determine the future of the Caribbean.

Having a vision is only half of getting there. Only when we explore and dare go too far, we will discover how far we can go!