India - Interviews
Ítalo Romani de Oliveira
Watershed - The rise of a vigorous middle class in Brazil - like in China and India - and the World Cup of 2014 demand a rapid commercial aviation regionalization. How to plan, invest, construct, manage and operate this new airport infrastructure?
Ítalo Romani de Oliveira - The regionalization is in fact, a process which shows the vigor of the economy, because it shows the increase in income is not located just in the large financial and commercial centers which attract risk capital, but is also spreading to small and medium cities, which are more seated in the “real economy”, which turns with the circulation of goods produced and consumed regionally. For commercial aviation to attend to this demand with quality and security, the whole air transport system needs to pass through a major evolution. Starting with pilot training, a matter which has got plenty of incentives from ANAC - National Civil Aviation Agency, but can become a problem for company expansion: if the demand is not met, there is a risk of the specialized standards demanded by the companies, measured in flying time in such and such a plane model, are reduced, increasing the risks of accidents. Other very important aspects are the system of airports and the regulatory model for the participation of the private initiative in that system. Presently, this model does not exist, which is greatly delaying investment in new airports and the expanding of the ones already there. While the airports may need some basic items of security and comfort, they also need to greatly enlarge their capacity, since the increase in regional aviation implies directly in the increase in movement in the large airports that may be the connection point for regional air passengers. The fact is that governments do not have all the resources and abilities to do the necessary enlargements, and thus, private capital will be the fulcrum for the country to bear the increase in demand without entering a chronic state of crowding. Independently of the model of investment and exploration of airports, planning is crucial; it must be promoted with vigor and defended against incursions of a political electioneering nature. The present stage of our airport system is already about 20 years behind in relation to our needs today, and so we need to chase after this loss. The governmental organs responsible are moving in this direction, but disputes in the highest spheres of Power may have a negative impact in the planning and evolution of the airport system.
WS - The management of air traffic is another challenge. How is the management of aeronautic information? What are the functions of Infraero and Cindacta? How is the interaction between both?
IRO - The aeronautical information in an indispensable element for the security of air navigation. It is with it that pilots and controllers are guided on flight plans, routes, weather, communication means and navigation and state of airports. Without it, air transport would be operating blind. Presently, the information needed to manage air traffic is produced and disclosed by a number of organs and units of the Department of Air Space Control - DECEA, by ANAC, and by Infraero, but DECEA has carried the role of integrator and the most interested in operational information on traffic management. Integrated information management has been sufficient so far, but the increase in efficiency required for demand will require the elimination of various manual processes, that is, greater automation of processes and more simple and direct access for interested parties, in a collaborative decision-taking environment. Now, about the functions of Infraero and Cindacta, starting with Infraero. This is a public federal company responsible for administering airports (presently 67), support units for air navigation (80) and logistic terminals (33). To date, its dealings are restricted to Brazil, but there are plans to expand this to overseas operations. CINDACTA – Integrated Air Defense Control Center and Air Traffic Control – is composed of two interlinked organs: one which manages civil air traffic of a determined region, named Area Control Center (ACC); and another which takes care of military operations, named Military Operations Center (COPM). This integration, despite criticisms due to the fact it is subordinated in the ultimate case by the Air Force Command, which is military, is seen as an example to be followed by other countries, because it facilitates the coordinated operation of air space between civil and military activities. There are presently four CINDACTA in Brazil: the central region, in Brasília (I), the southern region, in Curitiba (II), the North East in Recife (III), and the Amazon, in Manaus (IV). The interaction between Infraero and CINDACTA is mainly between the aerodrome control towers operated by Infraero, which need to request flight leaving the aerodrome in question and need forecasts of flight arrivals.
WS - What are biggest challenges in the creation and implementation of new system technologies for air traffic management?
IRO - The biggest challenges in this area are levels of trustworthiness, availability, facility of maintenance, security (concepts which for the CDMS acronym) demanded of these technologies, in order to minimize the risk of accidents, and also the compatibility of available equipment in planes, produced to operate worldwide, and the substitution and installation of which are extremely costly. CDMS must be understood in its widest sense, both for technical aspects of equipment and software and the human operator, who must be fully conscious of the situation and be able to foresee and have operational skills. To get the CDMS Standards, systems must be submitted to tough and extensive programs of verification, validation and security. The general philosophy is that an old and safe system is better than a new system and the security level of which is unknown. The compatibility of equipment has great influence because air traffic is the result of the interaction between gadgets on the plane and on the ground. Airplanes are constructed by few manufacturers in the world and must be prepared to operate anywhere in the globe. To avoid planes carrying one type of equipment to operate in each country or airport world equipment standards are set, for safety reasons and sometimes heavy regulations are imposed on substitution and installation of new equipment. What happens, then, is that when a country decides to develop and implant new air traffic systems, a major part of planes that operate there may not enjoy the facilities of the new system. Knowing these problems, the suppliers of air traffic control need to analyze carefully the implications of new systems, carry out joint actions with plane operators for the measures to be effective.
WS - What have the role of the State, the private sector and the universities been in the training of new specialists?
IRO - Firstly, these three sectors need to act jointly to get success in training specialists. The main role of the State in to incentivize and audit the training, of the private sector to be efficient in course management, and the universities, to discover and point to future medium and long term needs. The healthy interaction between these three poles will bring excellent specialists to our ranks. Let us take some examples: the State, through ANAC, offers pilot training scholarships, and takes care of the content and monitoring of exams for approving this profession; airlines and out placed companies have simulators for doing specialized training; the universities research psychological aspects, ergometrics and biological aspects of the profession of pilot, to supply in training, aspects which go beyond the immediate function of piloting.
WS - Does Brazil export technology in the area?
IRO - Brazil is an exporter de facto of technology in the area of air transport with a tradition established in the airplane business, more recently in Air Traffic Control and other areas linked to electronic equipment. In the case of CTA, Atech is responsible for systems in Venezuela and in Aruba.
WS - Systems Technologies also can be applied in the military sphere. The political assertiveness and economic musculature of Brazil, China and India appear to have revived the needs of investing in defense. Own technology is really a matter of sovereignty and national security?
IRO - Certainly, own technology. Without own technology, commercial agreements cannot be advantageous, apart from the fact that the exporting country may one day become an enemy.
WS - So is it not dangerous for Brazil to export technology?
IRO - This risk may occur in the case of technologies which are not found, in similar power levels, in other parts of the world. In many cases, if Brazil does not export, the interested parties will find it elsewhere.
WS - In the case of fighter purchases, the transfer of technology is one of the key questions to define the winner. Is it not naive to believe that this transfer will happen?
IRO - I do not believe that it is naivety. The relatively pacific scene of the present world, at least between developed countries, allows a healthy trust that the essential knowledge will be transferred.
WS - Strengths and weakness of the National Defense Strategy launched by the Brazilian government?
IRO - Strengths: attention given to the strengthening of the national defense industry and actions to protect territorial waters, important for petroleum exploration. As a weakness, I believe not much attention is given to long-term strategic aspects and intelligence aspects, although they could be protected, for obvious reasons. One aspect that stands out and causes controversy is the greater importance given to the Ministry of Defense, with a tendency of reducing the autonomy of the Armed Forces.
WS - What would you highlight in the END specifically for the Air Force?
IRO - It is difficult to highlight any point that is new and exclusive for the Air Force. The guidelines there are the expression that the Air Force was already seeking. However, added to it was that the Air Force also has three decision sectors, which are common to other forces: Nuclear, Cybernetic and Space.
WS - Expand Cumbica, increase Viracopos and/or construct a new airport?
IRO - Terminal 3 of Cumbica and the increase of Viracopos are preeminent priorities from long ago, foreseen in the National Airways. The construction of a third airport is a medium or long-term measure, but also needed.
WS - Every air traffic systems specialist’s dream...
IRO - It is difficult to speak for all, but mine is for airplanes to be more environmentally friendly. The manufactures are advancing significantly on this point but there is along way to go.
Interview by Marcos Guedes Pereira