Brazil’s senate approves civil aviation authority

 - October 30, 2006, 9:05 AM

Nearly six years after the creation of a civilian-run aviation agency was first proposed, the Brazilian Senate has approved a new civil aviation authority, the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC). The creation of ANAC transfers authority over Brazil’s skies from the country’s military-controlled Departamento de Aviação Civil (DAC) to civil authorities.

Aviation industry executives agree that Brazilian aviation has suffered because of the lack of a clear authority, arguing that the DAC has been reluctant to move ahead with new plans and programs because it expected the Senate to approve the ANAC. Furthermore, the DAC has not been given adequate resources and has encountered difficulties fulfilling its duties.

Now that the Senate has approved the bill, it goes to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is not expected to make any significant alterations.

The government was under pressure to pass the law, not only because of the regulatory limbo that the industry has faced in recent years, but also because of concern about Embraer aircraft exports. While the Brazilian and U.S. governments have a reciprocity agreement regarding aircraft certification, in the absence of a local civil aviation authority the U.S. could have required Embraer aircraft to undergo a second certification process, which would slow the entry of the aircraft into the U.S. and increase costs.

While most members of the aviation industry have praised the creation of the new agency, some have expressed concerns about the law.

“The new law is a big step forward, but the Senate passed the same text that the lower house approved in 2002 and a lot has changed in the industry since then,” said Adalberto Febeliano, the executive vice president of the Brazilian Business Aviation Association.

Good News for Bizav

With the creation of ANAC, the business aviation industry expects to see more administrative flexibility. “The DAC, as a military organization, was complex and bureaucratic. We expect ANAC to be less centralized and more agile,” Febeliano added.

One major concern is that the executive branch will have a greater say in the operations of ANAC than it does in the operations of other regulatory agencies. ANAC will report directly to the Civil Aviation Council (CONAC), whose members are nominated by the executive branch.

Some observers have expressed concern that that agency’s subordination to CONAC could undermine its independence. Likewise, the directors of ANAC can be fired at any moment if the executive branch determines that the agency is not operating in line with the goals of the executive branch.

In an effort to preserve the jobs of the current DAC staffers, the government has also called for a gradual replacement of the military with civilians, which could mean that it will take time for ANAC to shed its military management style.

Despite criticism about the bill, most observers believe it is a significant step forward for the industry.

“The bill was passed at a good moment for executive aviation,” said Febeliano. “With solid economic growth, the business aviation sector has had a good year, both in terms of new aircraft sales and in terms of charter activities, and the approval of ANAC could contribute to making the local industry even better.”