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As covered in most mainstream media in The Netherlands and on the islands of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, from November 7th till 11th the DCCA’s (Dutch Caribbean Cooporation of Airports) event “A Flight to the Future” as organized time in Aruba for the first time. The event primarily focused on sustainable development in aviation between the islands of the Dutch Kingdom and the collaboration between the airports.
One of the highlights of the event was the historic first electric flight effectuated in the Dutch Caribbean, with the Pipistrel Velis Electro of Royal NLR.
Looking back at the event, we have spoken to Marius Sliedrecht, one of the policy makers for aviation of the ministry of Infrastructure & Waterways (Ministerie van Infrastructuur & Waterstaat) of the Netherlands.
"Two years ago, we said; it is our dream that there will be an electric flight within 3 years … and that dream became a reality.”
Marius, you have been a policy maker for the aviation department for many years now, specifically for the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom, how did you experience 'A Flight to the Future'?
In the past years the ministry of I&W has been active in the field of aviation in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom. We have renovated landing strips together with the airports involved in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom and we have built an air traffic control tower in Bonaire. At the moment, we are closely involved with the further developments of the airports in "Caribbean Netherlands", all of them in the context of aviation safety.
So, we are seeing great things happening and we are constantly trying to elevate the aviation system. Sustainable aviation and connectivity are part of that system. To work on this theme effectively, it is very important that the islands join hands and collaborate with each other.
Because of that, the initiative of the DCCA to make affordable and sustainable aviation possible together with all the stakeholders, is a beautiful ambition. The ministry of I&W supports this desire and therefore co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding*.
The event was amazing and was organized really well. All stakeholders were present and many great discussions were being held. Our compliments to the organizing party.
What is your biggest take away from 'A Flight to the Future'?
I have to say seeing the electric airplane fly over Aruba, because that had never been done before in the Carib. During the event the airplane made multiple flights and everybody was enthusiastic.
Especially because the small airplane hardly makes any sound, but also because it is zero emission, and that fits perfectly within the climate goals that we aim for with all the parties involved. Furthermore, also because of the panel discussions that took place during the event, I am certain that electric flying will be the future in due time.
Are there any topics that were (briefly) touched upon last week during the event, but haven't gotten the attention that you believe they deserve? In other words, what would you like to bring to our attention once more?
Sustainability and innovation in aviation are almost always interconnected with aviation safety. A safe flight execution (which also includes loading infrastructure) is very important. Concerning this specific topic, there is still a lot of work left to be done, also by the UN organization (International Civil Aviation Organization).
I am really curious to find out how this theme will be translated to sustainable aviation in the Caribbean. For example, what will be the part of the governments? After all, they are in charge of developing good legislation, but also of monitoring the application of that legislation and all related procedures. Aviation safety is important in this transition, which is a precondition for making sustainable aviation possible.
Visit DCCA Live Stream – A Flight To The Future (dccaairports.com) to watch replays of the event days.
Written by Thyrza Piëst
* This MOU mainly empowers these islands to explore and establish affordable, efficient, and sustainable air connectivity between Curacao, Aruba, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba and, more specifically, to explore and stimulate the use of emission-free powered flights to execute the aforementioned air connectivity. A total of 15 dignitaries of the six island nations and the European Netherlands expressed their commitment to the memorandum and agreed on forming a steering committee and action group working on a Joint Business Plan how this ambition can be established. This business plan will be delivered within seven months of signing the MOU.