segunda-feira, 24 de agosto de 2009

Civilian agency should investigate aviation accidents

From O Globo 24/08, via Aeroclipping

Civilian agency should investigate aviation accidents

Project being studies at Ministry of Defense foresees the extinction of Air Force’s CENIPA and following model of countries like USA
By Tahiane Stochero*

São Paulo). The federal government intends to take from the military’s hands responsibility for investigating aviation accident in Brazil. A project being studied by the Ministry of Defense foresees the extinction of the Air Force’s Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aviation Accidents (Cenipa), and the creation of a new agency – civilian now – for the task. Three proposals are being analyzed by minister Nelson Jobim. All of them end the military’s management of the area.

The first one foresees the creation of a broader body, which would work not only in the management of the safety of aerial transportation, but also of land and river transport. Similar to that of countries like the United States, Canada and Australia, it would be subordinated directly to the Senate, as is today the Federal Court of Audit (TCU). The creation of this body, however, requires a Presidential decree or a bill proposed by the Legislative Branch and should not be approved by Jobim because, in this case, Defense would lose its control over the theme.

Another two hypotheses analyzed propose the creation of an agency, or of a secretariat within the Ministry of Defense to take over the investigation of aviation accidents – without the Air Force’s participation. It would be a model similar to that of France. Analysts believe that, subordinated directly to the Executive Branch, this body could act with autonomy and neutrality to eventually point out errors by Anac [the National Civil Aviation Agency] or Infraero (the state-owned firm which administers the Brazilian airports).

Decision to create civilian body appeared after TAM accident

The decision to create a civilian body to take over Cenipa’s function occurred after the accent with the Gol and TAM aircraft, which took place in 2006 and 2007. The two left, jointly, 353 dead. In both tragedies, Cenipa looked into the existence of errors by various entities subordinated to the government, including air traffic control, n area current under the responsibility of the Air Force.

Relatives of victims and representatives of the air safety area disagree on who should take over the responsibility for aviation accidents. Dario Scott, president of the association of relatives of victims of the TAM accident, which left 199 dead in São Paulo in 2007, sees the Ministry of Defense’s idea of creating a new body to investigate aviation tragedies as too bold:

“I don’t look well on creating a new body to do what Cenipa has been doing for 40 years. The Air Force is who really knows aviation in Brazil. We have to see if the new body will not be used to put politician’s choices on the public payroll.”

For him, the county needs to have specialists who investigate these cases without being beholden to the airlines or government bodies. The director of flight safety for the National Aeronaut’s Union, Carlos Carmacho, said that he is in favor of “responsibility is leaving the hands of the military” for these investigations.

“We have always defended an independent civilian organization to investigate, that is neither Anac nor is subordinated to the military hierarchy.”

For Camacho, a body with this prerogative, subordinated to Congress, “would be ideal, that’s a Utopia.”

Subordinated to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), Cenipa was ceated in 1972 and acts nationally in the area of the prevention and investigation of aviation tragedies. The investigations undertaken by the body are not punitive in nature and cannot be part of police inquiries. The purpose of Cenipa’s investigations is to point out factors which contributed to the accident and to issue prevention recommendations.

* of the Diário de São Paulo

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