Training participants stand together after receiving their flight dispatcher certificates. WFP / Isabel Pike
12 WFP aviation officers are now qualified to dispatch an aircraft after completing a five-week-long course in Dakar in December.
DAKAR - The training included sessions on meteorology and aircraft equipment as well as how to calculate the weight, balance and fuel consumption of aircrafts– all information and skills vital to transporting WFP food and staff safely.
The participants came from all over the world - Kenya, South Sudan, Italy, Afghanistan, Niger, Togo, DRC, Cameroon, Somalia, Chad and Ghana – and formed a tight-knit group by the end of the training.
“The competition between the participants was friendly,” said Jamshed Amiri, formerly an air traffic controller with the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority.
“We helped each other with our homework, sometimes working until as late as 2 am,” he said, adding that the sessions on navigation were the hardest part.
“Receiving this certificate is not a gift. Participants have to work hard for it,” confirmed WFP Chief of Aviation Pierre Carrasse.
“The training gives us a group of solid professionals who can work well together,” said Carrasse, adding that each year a sense of unity develops among the participants, many of them staying in touch with each other after the training is complete.
Joining the WFP group were four participants from other organizations: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the European Commission (ECHO) and Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF).
This was the third annual UNHAS training at ERNAM (L’Ecole Régionale de la Navigation Aérienne et du Management), a state of the art aviation school in Dakar, a city with a history as an aviation hub.
The training was funded by the Belgian government, who have donated 5 million Euros in total towards the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS).
In his remarks at the training’s closing ceremony, WFP Deputy Regional Director for West Africa Claude Jibidar thanked the Belgians for “their assistance to life-saving operations.”
“Thank you for your invaluable work,” he said to the participants, congratulating them on their newly-received qualifications.
“We rely on you to make WFP operations and the movements of our colleagues in the field as safe as possible.”