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Cablegate: Struggling for Aviation Safety - Angolan Civil Air

VZCZCXRO4871
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0862/01 2321644
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201644Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4246
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0625

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000862

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - CONNIE HUNTER
ROME FOR TSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR EAID ECON AO
SUBJECT: STRUGGLING FOR AVIATION SAFETY - ANGOLAN CIVIL AIR
DIRECTOR MEETS USTDA

REF: A. STATE 110696
B. LUANDA 693

1. (SBU) Summary. USTDA Country Manager for West and
Central Africa Pierce Davis met with Angolan Civil Aviation
Agency Director Antonio Pombal on 27 July 2007. Davis found
a Pombal preoccupied with INAVIC,s efforts to overcome a
European Union ban on TAAG flights. Pombal hopes for
immediate DOT support through the Safe Skies program and
continuing support to TAAG from the Boeing Corporation. He
also described INAVIC,s work with private contractors.
Pombal wants both English-language training along with
equipment and safety training from DOT for INAVIC,s new
airworthiness inspectors. Pombal, who also wants Angola to
reach Category One status and initiate direct flights to the
United States, listened carefully as Davis described areas
where USTDA can fund studies serving Angolan civil
aviation,s long-term development. End summary.

Background
----------

2. (SBU) USTDA,s Country Director for West and Central
Africa, Pierce Davis, called on the Antonio Pombal, Director
of Angola,s Institute of Civil Aviation (INAVIC) while
INAVIC was in a crisis. On 4 July 2007 the European Union
banned TAAG, the Angolan national airline, from EU airspace.
After the ban went into effect, TAAG first tried rerouting
its European flights to Cabo Verde, but TACV, Cabo Verde
Airlines (TACV) did not have enough seats to carry all of
TAAG,s EU-bound passengers. Now, TAAG has leased airplanes
and crews to continue flying its routes and schedules while
the airline works to pass muster at the next EU review in
October. Angola,s Civil Aviation Agency, named with TAAG in
the EU ban, also wants to achieve concrete results before the
next EU review. INAVIC Director Pombal took advantage of the
visit by USTDA,s Davis to appeal for USG help and describe
INAVIC,s efforts.

Pombal at INAVIC
----------------

3. (SBU) On 27 July 2007, Antonio Pombal, meeting USTDA,s
Pierce Davis immediately launched into a review of INAVIC,s
concerns and its efforts to exit the EU,s blacklist. Pombal
hopes for immediate USG assistance to help Angolan civil
aviation meet international standards. He listened
attentively to Davis,s explanation that while USTDA cannot
provide immediate assistance, it does fund studies that
identify ways to develop particular sectors of the economy )
including the transportation sector. Davis suggested several
areas where USTDA studies might help Angola define its
long-term goals for civil aviation. Possibilities included
exploring the scope of Angola,s civil aviation needs,
defining which services could enhance security at all
airports, or the specific needs of Luanda,s new
international airport. (Note: Pombal had just explained
that a Chinese company would build the airstrip at an
undetermined date, but that the terminal building and all
other aspects of the airport have not yet been designed. End
note.)

INAVIC Tackles Air Safety for Angola
------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Pombal claimed that by the end of August Angola
will have in place a new civil aviation law and its
implementing regulations ) meeting part of the EU,s
requirements. INAVIC will continue working to meet EU
standards throughout August and September. INAVIC has also
contracted for technical assistance with aviation safety from
SH and E (Simat, Helliesen and Eichner, Inc., a U.S.
corporation) to upgrade INAVIC,s abilities in air
navigability inspections. Topping stacks of books on
Pombal,s desk lay two June 2007 studies, one by the European
Union Air Safety Committee, &INAVIC ) Implementing the
Highest Standards,8 the other a &Plan of Action for TAAG8
in French by the Groupe Aero Conseil Group. (Note: Aero
Conseil, according to its website, specializes in supplying
airlines with employees in areas where they have a temporary
shortage. End note.)

Four Major INAVIC Concerns
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Pombal grouped INAVIC,s current civil aviation
safety concerns under four headings: 1) Safe Skies for

LUANDA 00000862 002 OF 002


Africa; 2) The new TAAG fleet; 3) Airworthiness
inspections; and 4) licensing for Angola,s civil aviation
sector.

6. (SBU) Safe Skies for Africa. INAVIC would like to
define training programs and time tables with the U. S.
Department of Transportation (DOT). Pombal has recently
hired 22 new inspectors and hopes DOT can help train them and
10 additional INAVIC inspectors to be hired soon. Pombal
confirmed that the revised 2007 GRA budget funds both the new
and the additional inspectors. Pombal hopes that DOT can
also provide training on equipment and security, and said
Angola would like to know what the training would include and
its cost.

7. (SBU) New TAAG Fleet. Referring to a 17 April 2006
letter from Boeing describing 13 training programs for TAAG,
Pombal noted that some of the programs cited had not yet
started. However, he readily conceded that some of Boeing,s
programs cannot start before current programs achieve their
goals and agreed that those programs are moving slowly.
Programs in progress include developing a new IT program for
TAAG and a review of TAAG,s flight operations. Programs
that have not yet started include building a regional Boeing
maintenance center and helping TAAG create a new image and
corporate identity.

8. (SBU) Airworthiness Inspections. A Miami company is
training seven of INAVIC,s new air worthiness inspectors.
Pombal planned to travel to Miami to propose expanding
training to include illegal air traffic and interference with
traffic.

9. (SBU) Licensing for Angola,s civil aviation sector.
INAVIC has contracted several international companies,
including the American SH and E, to assist in this area.

Conveying Pombal,s Concern to DOT
---------------------------------

10. (SBU) Davis congratulated INAVIC and TAAG for securing
program support on airworthiness from both DOT and Boeing.
Davis also offered to contact both Boeing and DOT upon his
return to the United States. Davis suggested that USTDA
could explore funding a study of the aviation security sector
for Angola. Davis added that USTDA might also fund a study
to identify what Luanda,s future international airport will
need.

Comment
-------

11. (SBU) USTDA Davis,s visit to INAVIC found the agency
straining to find ways to overcome the EU ban on TAAG flights
by October. Although Pombal echoed some of the standard
complaints by the GRA and TAAG that the ban was not
justified, he seemed more concerned with making the best use
of the time to improve INAVIC and TAAG,s operations. Pombal
also made clear INAVIC,s desire to work with the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the Safe Skies Program to
raise Angolan civil aviation to Category One status. A
revised 2007 budget with funds for additional inspectors
suggests high-level GRA support for an continuing aviation
safety program meeting international standards. Although
most of Pombal,s concerns are short-term, he did listen
attentively to Davis,s description of how USTDA can provide
long-term help. End Comment.

12. This message has been cleared by Pierce Davis, Country
Director for West and Central Africa
FERNANDEZ

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