Aviation and money could be the common denominators to build a
lasting peace in war-torn Bosnia.
Because of the universal appeal and need for both, horrors and
waste of war have been brought home to Oklahoma City.
With a United States-led peace accord signed, rebuilding the
country is vital and one of its most important aspects is the
While the Sarajevo airport has runways relatively intact, all
equipment for operating the airport -- everything from ground tugs
radar and communication equipment -- has been stripped. Along with
the missing equipment, most of the trained air traffic controllers
either were killed, drafted into the army, switched sides in the war
or became refugees trying to escape the war.
"We have only about five or six controllers left in Bosnia-
Herzegovina," said Mahmud Cico, deputy director for air traffic
control for the republic's Civil Aviation Authority. "We have
restored some civilian aviation into Sarajevo, but most of it now is
Cico is in Oklahoma City, negotiating with the FAA Academy at the
Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center to develop classes to train a core
of controllers to operate the Sarajevo airport. Later, others will
be trained by the core until 160 controllers have been certified.
Managers will come to Oklahoma City for the training while the
Federal Aviation Administration will send Ron Ward and Lee Nichols
from the academy in Oklahoma City to Bosnia-Herzegovina to train
Not only will the FAA work with the Bosnians to train the air
traffic controllers, but the navigation aids and communication
equipment also must be replaced. Navigation equipment is expected to
arrive in Sarajevo by the end of November and radar and
communications equipment by the end of the year, Cico said.
Now, French and United States miliary troops are handling traffic
control, routing through flights around the war zone.
"We're losing millions of dollars a year in airspace use fees from
these airlines," Cico said.
Rebuilding the ravaged country, sad as it seems, offers an
opportunity for Oklahoma business concerns, Cico said.
While in Oklahoma City, he has talked with private companies and
the Oklahoma Department of Commerce about ventures in his country,
including construction and communications work.
"The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) is a part of the Ministry of
Foreign Trade and International Communications, so when I go back, I
will tell my ministers what I have learned in Oklahoma City," he
Not many buildings are left standing in the country, especially
Sarajevo. Along with the building destruction, the war also
destroyed all public utilities, communication and the city's water
"I used to stay up late at night until water was available, then
get a small amount for my family, then go to work the next day,"