Opportunities Seen in Rebuilding Bosnia
Bill May Journal Record Reporter, THE JOURNAL RECORD
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 aviation infrastructure. While the Sarajevo airport has runways relatively intact, all equipment for operating the airport -- everything from ground tugs to 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 military aviation." 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 other controllers. 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 said. 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 supply. "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," Cico said. …