Brazil Moves To Handle Accident Investigations More Securely

 - October 22, 2012, 2:55 PM

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill ensuring the priority and confidentiality of aviation accident safety investigations and sent the proposed legislation to the Senate. The PL 2453/07 bill was introduced by a special committee that held hearings on Brazil’s two worst air disasters. The first was the 2006 midair between a Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes Boeing 737-8EH and a U.S.-registered Embraer Legacy, followed by an accident less than a year later in which a TAM Airlines Airbus A320 overran the runway at São Paulo Congonhas Airport, killing 199 people, including a legislator.

Chamber of Deputies speaker Marco Maia, the author of the special committee’s report, is credited with the bill’s rapid approval. The bill prioritizes safety investigations and guarantees the confidentiality of sources. It also says that safety testimony cannot be used in criminal, civil or administrative proceedings. Fearing their words could be used against them, air traffic controllers in the 2006 midair never spoke to safety investigators.

The bill would also clarify that safety recommendations don’t imply blame on the part of those to whom they’re addressed. Criminal investigations are to be dealt with separately. Safety investigators, but not those involved in the investigation, can be loaned to police. Flight recorders can be shared with police, but not the data extracted from them by the safety investigation.

If the law is passed, people divulging confidential data could be penalized.