TCU indicates error by ATC bodies
Author(s): Agencia O Globo/Fábio Fabrini
O Globo - 20/05/2010
For the tribunal, Anac and Cenipa perform identical tasks and problems can interfere with the prevention of accidents
An audit by the Tribunal of Audit of the Union (TCU) [NT: Similar to the Congressional Budget Office, performs non-partisan technical evaluation, as well as checking for financial fraud] of air traffic control bodies found errors which could interfere with the prevention of disasters. Set off after the airport collapse and the accident with the airliners of Gol (2006) and TAM (2007), the investigation shows that the National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac) and the Center for the Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautic Accidents (Cenipa), linked to the Air Force, exercise identical roles in the collection of flight safety information and, not rarely, develop the same projects, in a sort of competition.
Yesterday, the ministers voted an order that the Ministry of Defense define the roles of each agent.
According to the auditors' report, the head-knocking leads to unaccustomed situations: those who supply civil aviation services decide, according to their interests, to whom to report data about accidents, incidents, occurrences on the ground, abnormalities and situations of danger. The two bodies take overlapping actions against bird strikes, one of the major risk factors for airplanes. ANAC created a process to collect and evaluate report on collisions, while Cenipa already had its Program for the Control of Bird Risk in Brazil.
Document emphasizes risk of accidents at Galeão
Based on the statistics, the TCU considejoered the chances of an accident for this reason to be high. Between January and October of last year, 540 birds were struck by aircraft in the country, 140 of them hitting motors. At Galeão Airport alone, there were 68 cases (more than 10%) which worries airlines and pilots. Meeting at the terminal in March of 2009, the Commission of the Control of Bird Danger in Brazil, linked to Cenipa, indicated the imminent danger of an occurrence similar to the emergency landing of an A-320 aircraft in the Hudson River, in New York, in January of last year.
Cenipa's statistics and information from the country's two largest airlines leave no doubt as to the seriousness of the risk of an accident, especially at Galeão airport, says the TCU report.
At Galeão, Gol jets collided 34 times with vultures and other species between January and September of last year. At the meeting, the company's representatives informed that sectors of Gol are still being alerted about the closeness of an accident.
TAM estimated that the cost of the problem grew from US$ 1.6 million in 2008 to US$ 3.3 million in 2009.
Pilots tell of risk caused by birds
Pilots related that they have been obliged to maneuver at low altitude to avoid the animals. In many cases, they have taken over the ends of all the runways.
Nowadays it is common for the tower to ask if it is possible to take off, due to the flocks exactly over the end of the runway, one of them wrote, in a report sent to Cenipa, demanding an urgent attitude to improve the situation.
The TCU audit concluded that ANAC's participation in the prevention of accidents could be seriously restricted by the activities which it itself develops.
The agency collects information on safety from civil aviation operators, but also punishes them for the problems and irregularities indicated. As there is no system for protecting the secrecy of the source, pilots, flight operators and other agents feel intimidated.
"It's as if they were playing against their own team", said minister Benjamin Zymler, author of the TCU opinion on the case.
In the report, the auditors found that ANAC has not published the measures of the airlines' efficiency.
There is no transparency on cancellations and delays, which would serve to guide the consumer in purchasing tickets and would force improvements in service.
This creates a healthy competition among the companies, Zymler affirmed.
Besides suggesting that the Ministry of Defense adjust standards and define ANAC's and CENIPA's activities, the ministers recommend that the ministry adopt measures to avoid the punishment of informants and supervise actions to avoid accidents caused by birds. To the agency, they asked that it resume publishing the measurements and take actions to avoid delays and cancellations.