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Cablegate: Civair - Progress Being Made, but a Long Way Yet

VZCZCXRO7730
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLU #0287/01 1001620
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091620Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4716
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RHMCSUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUANDA 000287

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FOR CONNIE HUNTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ECON AO
SUBJECT: CIVAIR - PROGRESS BEING MADE, BUT A LONG WAY YET
TO GO

REF: A. A) LUANDA 204
B. B) 07 LUANDA 872

1. (U) This is an action message. Please see paragraph 9

2. (SBU) Summary: During an April 7 call on Angola's National
Institute for Civil Aviation (INAVIC), Ambassador Mozena and
INAVIC Director Antonio Pombal agreed our countries share the
same goal: safe and secure aviation in Angola, eventually
including direct flights between Angola and the United
States. Pombal told the Ambassador INAVIC has fully embraced
the approach of Boeing-sponsored contractors in the
development of its air safety certification program, and is
expanding cooperation with the same consulting firm to
include assistance on security, airdrome, and air navigation
systems. INAVIC is struggling, however, with the expansion
of its new regulatory powers and it appears Pombal's hands
are still tied by many in the GRA (including TAAG) who are
unaccustomed to and have little appreciation for INAVIC's
interference with their operations. Pombal requested U.S.
assistance on airport security and airdrome issues. U.S.
support in the form of technical expertise or commercial
contacts for advanced equipment would be timely and encourage
continued forward progress. End Summary.

---------------------------------------------
CivAir Regulation is a New Concept for Angola
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) INAVIC Director General Antonio Pombal told
Ambassador Mozena that effective regulation of civil aviation
is a new concept for Angola. Before independence, Portugal
administered the country's aviation operations, and during
the long civil war, Pombal said, the GRA paid little
attention to the regulation of civilian flights. Attention
from the international community (especially the EU ban on
TAAG airlines) is now forcing the GRA to take INAVIC's
regulatory responsibility seriously. Pombal said President
Dos Santos ordered INAVIC to bring Angola into compliance
with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and
International Aviation Transportation Association (IATA)
standards.

4. (SBU) Pombal praised the work of Boeing-sponsored U.S.
consultants (Tim Neel and Associates) to help INAVIC develop
an ICAO compliant regulatory system. Pombal said INAVIC has
picked up the contract from Boeing and expanded the scope of
the consultants' work to include bringing INAVIC regulations
concerning airport security, airdrome, and air navigation
into compliance with international standards. Pombal expects
their work on codifying new regulations on security and air
navigation will be completed by early 2009. Pombal said he
plans to invite the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to review Angola's compliance with U.S. standards soon
after the consultants finish their work and new security
regulations are published, most likely in the first half of
2009.

5. (SBU) Pombal said INAVIC also understands the significant
cost of maintaining an effective regulatory regime and he is
asking the GRA to fully fund the program. He said INAVIC
needs 54 new inspectors and that each inspector requires long
periods of training and qualification. Pombal said the
Ministry of Transportation is currently reviewing INAVIC's
long-term budget and proposed staffing pattern, which include
a significant increase in the salary level of INAVIC staff.
Pombal said competition for well trained staff require a firm
commitment to wage parity with the senior 777 and 747 flight
commanders the inspectors would oversee. So far, Pombal
said, the GRA has responded positively to his requests.

------------------------------
But Regulations are Just Paper
------------------------------

6. (SBU) The Ambassador asked Pombal what enforcement actions
INAVIC had taken since the promulgation of Angola's new
regulatory scheme in early January. Acknowledging that
Angolan carriers are not in compliance with the GRA's new
regulations, Pombal said INAVIC revoked the operating
certificates of all carriers and issued provisional
certificates, valid until May 2009, which allow the airlines
to continue normal operations as they work toward compliance.
Pombal firmly declared that any airline out of compliance by
the end of the deadline would be grounded. According to
Pombal, INAVIC is required to notify the Ministry of

LUANDA 00000287 002 OF 002


Transportation before any enforcement action is taken against
civilian carriers. Pombal stressed that under the new
regulatory scheme, such notification would not result in
political pressure to overturn a decision, although he
admitted that INAVIC had come under pressure in the past by
airline executives and other members of the GRA.

-------------------------
INAVIC Not Afraid of TAAG
-------------------------

7. (SBU) When asked about INAVIC actions against TAAG after
the airline was banned from flying to Europe, Pombal
acknowledged serious problems with the airline. He said
during a September review of TAAG, European inspectors
recorded 273 findings of non-compliance with IATA standards.
Pombal said TAAG was given two years to make the necessary
improvements (until May 2009 plus a possible 3 month
extension). Pombal said an April, 2008 follow-on inspection
of TAAG was cut short because it was clear TAAG was not ready
for review. The next inspection will take place on April 27.
Pombal told the Ambassador he is not satisfied with the TAAG
issue. and that "TAAG is not aware that it needs more
professionalism." When asked again why TAAG was still
flying, Pombal answered that by revoking TAAG's operating
certificate (and issuing provisional permission to fly) ,
INAVIC demonstrated to the public it is serious about
regulation and "not afraid of the size or power of TAAG."


--------------------------
Comment and Action Request
--------------------------

8. (SBU) Comment: In spite of the progress made to bring
Angola's civair regulations into compliance with ICAO
standards, the GRA has decided not to enforce its own
regulations until May 2009, at the earliest. This decision
appears to firmly place economic and political considerations
ahead of safety concerns. Pombal comes across as earnest in
his desire to bring Angola's aviation sector into compliance
with ICAO standards, but INVAIC's lack of enforcement action
calls into question whether the GRA will give INAVIC the
political space it needs to regulate effectively. We find
Pombal's call for a 2009 FAA review of Angola's regulatory
improvements to be premature at this stage.

9 . (U) Action Request: Washington agencies may wish to
consider how best to support Pombal's request (and Minister
of Transportation Brandao's request reported ref A) for U.S.
assistance with security and airdrome improvements,
especially related to equipment procurement. Angola has
decided, according to Pombal, to commit whatever resources
are necessary for Angola to build a world-class aviation
safety and security regulatory system. Technical assistance,
information on available U.S. equipment for purchase, and
training opportunities would be a welcome compliment to
Angola's ongoing work with private consultants on the
regulatory side of these issues. Pombal also requested
additional assistance through the Safe Skies for Africa
program. Ref B describes our diplomatic efforts throughout
2007 that culminated in a demarche to the GRA asking the
Ministry of Transportation to put in writing their specific
requests for assistance in improving civil aviation in
Angola. The Angolans have yet to respond formally, although
they have given us verbal assurances up to the level of the
Minister of Transportation that they seek such cooperation.
We will continue our efforts for a more formal response, but
the recent requests represent an opportunity to work with the
GRA to strengthen the safety and security of civil aviation
in Angola.
MOZENA

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