Planes at airport cuba

Here’s the FAA’s New Caribbean Aviation Initiative

Aviation is a global enterprise that brings the world together. U.S. civil aviation has a $2.4 trillion dollar impact on the global economy, and accounts for more than 58 million jobs.

Growth in travel, new routes, increasing trade and investment, and new technological endeavors underscore the importance of international cooperation. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) targets resources to engage with the international aviation community to improve safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability through regulatory harmonization and partnerships such as the new Caribbean Initiative.

The Caribbean Inititative

The FAA is working with our Caribbean partners to enhance the safety and efficiency of aviation in an important region next to the United States. Through the Caribbean Initiative, the FAA’s technical experts work with our Caribbean partners to improve air traffic flow management through collaborative decision-making, and increasing airport safety and certification in the region. It also supports the region’s implementation of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

The Caribbean is a critical nexus for the U.S. airspace system:

  • More than 7 million passengers fly from the United States to the Caribbean each year, accounting for nearly 17 percent of all U.S. outbound passengers.
  • Millions of Americans travel to the Caribbean each year and air traffic in the Caribbean region is expected to grow rapidly by five to six percent over the next two decades, second only to the Middle East.
  • Air traffic management is complex and requires extensive coordination among air navigation partners. The region includes 10 air traffic service providers managed by separate sovereign nations.  Half a million aircraft cross one of the six flight regions adjacent to the U.S.
  • Varying tropical weather patterns and the complexity of a multitude of airports contribute to air traffic schedule uncertainty and delays within the region.
  • U.S. carriers have begun to operate scheduled passenger service Cuba.

Given the significant U.S. passenger and air carrier traffic to and through the Caribbean, the FAA dedicates time and resources by working with our civil aviation partners in the region, ICAO, and industry to maximize all of our efforts to improve the safe and efficient management of this important airspace. The agency shares best practices through airport workshops, offers technical assistance and training, promotes efficiency by working with countries that manage flight information regions that are adjacent to ours to enhance air traffic flow management and collaborative decision making tools and procedures, and promotes greater implementation of System Wide Information Management (SWIM).

Man boards plane on tarmak
photo courtesy of Mimi Fuenzalida, Cuba Journal contributor


The Caribbean Initiative frames regional cooperation between the FAA, ICAO, Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), Airports Council International (ACI) Latin American-Caribbean, American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and our Caribbean partners. Activities include:

Air Traffic Flow Management and Collaborative Decision-Making

The FAA is working with its Caribbean partners to share best practices for air traffic flow management and collaborative decision making. These efforts should improve air traffic performance and efficiency in the region.  For example, the FAA is:

  • Working with Caribbean airport authorities and airport operators to enhance airport certification and overall safety in the region’s airports.
  • Partnering with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago in bilateral exchanges of traffic flow data. Air service providers in the region now speak weekly to share real-time air traffic flow, demand, weather and other data. By increasing communication, they can anticipate and be proactive together to handle capacity issues. Sharing critical data and collaborative decision-making tools will increase the safety and efficiency of the Caribbean region.
  • Providing technical support for an Air Traffic Flow Management Data Exchange Network for the Americas. The CANSO-led effort, called CADENA, will enable other countries to leverage the collaborative decision making experience of their neighboring air traffic providers and the FAA.

The FAA is encouraging Cuba to establish the first Air Traffic Flow Management position in Havana Center to accommodate growing traffic as U.S. carriers begin scheduled passenger service to Havana. The FAA continues to collaborate within the U.S. Government and with the Cuban aviation authorities to improve access in the busy Giron corridor between Miami and Havana. The U.S. warning areas in U.S. airspace were moved in September to help alleviate growing traffic congestion issues. This will improve the safety and efficiency of air traffic through that area by allowing for dedicated north and southbound routes at all times, even when U.S. military warning areas are activated.

Airspace Improvements

The FAA is implementing recommendations from a U.S. government-industry panel which reviewed issues affecting FAA-managed airspace in the South Florida/Caribbean region. The panel’s recommendations focused on improving infrastructure, airspace capacity, and harmonization.  The agency is currently conducting a Caribbean airspace study and reviewing the Area Navigation (RNAV) routes in the Giron corridor near the Miami and Havana airspace boundary.

System Wide Information Management Services (SWIM)

In addition to the activities listed above, the Caribbean Initiative also aims to implement a NextGen technology called SWIM as the vehicle for sharing situational data across the region. SWIM will provide the region with greater access to real-time information on flight data, weather, airport operations and special use airspace status. This will allow users to more effectively address airport capacity and traffic flow management constraints. By providing real time weather data and pilot observations, SWIM also offers enhanced safety and capacity building opportunities. This technology will help ensure that the entire region has a common traffic picture that enables safety and air traffic control efficiencies.

An interoperable network approach for the Caribbean region would lead to system-wide balancing of demand and capacity, enhanced safety and optimized efficiency. This optimization will be a key feature to ensure safety and efficiency as air traffic continues to grow in the region. Airline operators will also benefit from increased situational awareness, improved air traffic control system predictability, increased on-time performance and improved use of aircraft, crew, and maintenance resources.

Airport Safety Activities

The Caribbean Initiative has a strong safety component which impacts the large number of U.S. citizens that travel to the region, by enhancing airport safety and supporting ICAO standards and recommended practices for aerodromes and ground aids.

The FAA is working with Caribbean airport authorities and airport operators to enhance airport certification and overall safety in the region’s airports.  Activities include:

  • Developing English and Spanish-Language Airport Safety Seminars.
  • Providing a Spanish-language Airport Safety Seminar in the Dominican Republic
  • Providing English-language Airport Safety Seminars in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Offering a General Aviation Seminar in Cuba for the Cuban Institute of Civil Aeronautics.
  • Offering opportunities for civil aviation or airport authority personnel to job shadow Airport Certification Safety Inspectors in the U.S
  • Foster a working-level exchange of best practices pertaining to airport certification.
  • Supporting ICAO airport safety workshops/assistance missions in the Caribbean.
Here’s the FAA’s New Caribbean Aviation Initiative was last modified: November 22nd, 2016 by Cuba Journal