The Air Force Center for Social Communication, on analyzing the content of the article "We Remain on Collision Course" (Época Magazine, Issue No. 679), informs the public that it is safe to fly in the country, that the tools of prevention of the Brazilian Airspace Control System are working perfectly and that all actions taken are in accordance with air traffic volume and with international safety standards.
Proof of this was the result of an audit performed in 2009 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), civil aviation's highest body, linked to the United Nations, with 190 member countries, which classified the Brazilian Airspace Control System among the top five in world. According to ICAO, Brazil reached 95% compliance in operational and safety procedures.
To clarify, the Center emphasizes that:
1) Workloads are established according to law, based on international standards. It is also noted that every controller works with an assistant and a supervisor, who is a more qualified controller overseeing several sectors. The supervisor also has the authority to summon additional controllers whenever a sector is overloaded. Thus, the controllers summoned immediately assume their duties because they are at rest in a room inside the control center.
2) Contrary to what was published, the Air Force Specialists School does not train 150 controllers a year, but 300. Today, the number of active military controllers in Brazil is about 3,100. The goal for 2016 is a 3,420 controllers. Therefore, we are on target even considering those leaving the profession.
3) The promotion of air traffic control professionals, from assistant to controller and from controller to supervisor, is determined by a board which comprises, among others, the most experienced supervisors of each air traffic control organ.
4) Investment in technology has helped reduce controllers' training time. The time reduction is due to the gain in quality provided by this technology and not due to pressure of any kind. In 2007, with the implementation of the Simulation Center at the Air Space Control Institute (ICEA) in Sao Jose dos Campos (SP), controllers' training at the operational level was increased. With cutting-edge systems and 100% domestic technology, this new structure increased the number of control positions from 10 to 32, that is, capacity increased from 160 to 512 controller-students per year, tripling training capacity. It was also possible to increase the controller's daily class load and, consequently, reduce the number of days for this professional' s training in comparison with the former training method.
5) Annually, the Department of Air Space Control (DECEA) invests from 4.5 to 5 million reais (2.8 to 3 million dollars) in English language courses in Brazil and abroad, aiming to raise the level of English proficiency of professionals directly involved in serving international air traffic. It has also begun to demand that the controller, on reaching the training school, already have intermediate level English, which also helped reduce training time.
6) There are now 170 airspace control radars in the country, which are operating. The technical team is tailored for scheduled maintenance services. There is no gap in coverage at the altitudes used by commercial aviation.
7) Overall, the DECEA is always looking to deploy new technologies to improve the Air Space Control System. Already operating at CINDACTA II (Curitiba) and CINDACTA III (Recife), the System for Advanced Management of Air Traffic Information and Reports of Operational Interest (SAGITTARIUS), new domestically developed software which represents a technological breakthrough in workstation interface for air traffic controllers. The system has new features that enable improved situational awareness on the part of controllers. Its interface is more intuitive, making it easier for your users.
By 2012, the entire system should use SAGITTARIUS, developed based on the practices and recommendations of the international market, such as Eurocontrol (European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation), and the Brazilian flight controllers themselves.
The investments in the area also involve expanding the network of VHF and UHF stations in the country's South and Southeast regions, upgrading the network of aids to aerial navigation and modernization of route and approach radars across the country.
8) In 2010, DECEA also experimentally initiated PBN (Performance Based Navigation), which is an element in the transition from conventional flight, based on ground systems, to navigation based on performance, using systems with greater autonomy and satellites. Experimental use was begun this year in Recife and Brasilia, and should be completed by 2020, in coordination with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
9) As to the deployment of ADS-B, cited in the article, the airspace control development plan provides for initial deployment in the Campos Basin, initially only for helicopters, and later for airplanes. The target established by ICAO is to cover the entire country by 2020.
Finally, this Center emphasizes that the issue of air traffic safety in the country requires responsible treatment, without emotion and independent of political or special interests.
Air Brigadier Kanitz Marcelo Damasceno
Head of the Air Force Center for Social Communication