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IATA criticises all aspects of Brazilian aviation safety infrastructure

Brazil's accident rate is currently about 3.5 times the world average and the reasons for this are almost all down to shortcomings in air traffic control, poor communications and substandard airport operation, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In April this year IATA began working with the Brazilian government and its aviation agencies to assess priorities for action, and studies in all sectors are still continuing, says the association.

In an interim report, IATA's assessment of the chances for near-term improvement is dire. Following a long summary of the situation that has led the country to face its two worst-ever fatal air accidents in the last twelve months, the organisation predicts: "The political/labour crisis is expected to continue for some time, possibly causing further ATC and airport problems in the near future."

IATA says it has sent a team of experts to assess the compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards of the country's major airports and its air traffic control (ATC) system.

There is no national ATC contingency plan, says IATA, and developing one will be on the short-term priorities list along with bringing safety management systems (SMS) into all aspects of Brazilian aviation operations.

Out of a total of 53 incident reports filed in 2005 and 2006, 13 related to ATC, nine to infrastructure, 17 to communications, seven to aviation information services and seven to "other" causes, IATA has reported.

IATA comments that the chronic lack of government investment in aviation has occurred despite the fact that a 50% government surcharge - known as the ATAERO tax - is levied on all aviation user charges, but that practically none of the money is put back into the system.

"The majority of ATAERO funds are retained by the government," reports IATA. The government agency that runs the major airports, INFRAERO, "has a cost-recovery model through airport charges that are levied in addition to ATAERO", observes IATA, and earnings at the major airports serving international flights are used to subsidise domestic aerodromes to the detriment of the international hubs.

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