The Ministry of Aviation is calling on individuals to seek permission before launching fireworks, drones, helium-filled toy balloons, and sky lanterns, after the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower observed fireworks in the general vicinity of Trouya, Gros Islet recently.
According to the Ministry, on Tuesday, November 28, a flight departed from George F. L. Charles Airport for Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados at 8:05 p.m.
Shortly after take-off, the ATC noticed fireworks “approximately 2.6 miles north-northeast of the airport”, prompting the Ministry to issue a warning.
“The use of fireworks, helium-filled toy balloons, drones, and sky lanterns in Saint Lucia pose a serious threat to aviation safety. Unexpected fireworks could divert pilots’ attention and result in potential damage during flight operations. Helium-filled toy balloons and sky lanterns have the potential to cause engine damage through ingestion, while remnants from sky lanterns could introduce Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on airport runways, posing a risk of damage to aircraft. The proximity of such activities to aerodromes, especially during critical flight phases like take-off and landing, heightens the risk to aircraft operations,” a press release from the Ministry stated.
Further, it read, “fireworks displays in Saint Lucia range from small-scale events to major occasions. Solid objects launched into the air during displays, particularly at large-scale events, pose a tangible risk to aircraft due to the potential for collisions or other interference to flight paths. While the overall risk is deemed small, the Ministry underscores the paramount importance of safety in aviation.”
Consequently, approval or permission must be sought from the Ministry, the press release noted.
Coordination with the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority’s (SLASPA) Airports Department and ATC Tower is mandatory, with final approval contingent on the prevailing air traffic situation. It is also essential to inform the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) by contacting the nearest fire station “well in advance” of any fireworks displays or sky lantern releases.
The Ministry emphasizes the crucial need to adhere to safety regulations and guidelines to safeguard both aviation operations and public well-being.