Friday, July 19, 2013

Portugal’s air accident investigation bureau left without investigators

The Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention bureau (GPIAA) has lost its last remaining investigator after 70-year-old António Alves retired on Tuesday.

Speaking to Lusa News Agency, Fernando Ferreira dos Reis, the head of the GPIAA, confirmed: “Our last investigator stopped working on Tuesday after reaching the maximum age permitted by law to do that job. Ongoing investigations will all be suspended as will those which in the meantime may be opened.”

For the past year Fernando Ferreira dos Reis has been waiting to resign and be replaced as the head of the GPIAA, which belongs to the Ministry of Economy.

Since 2012 António Alves has been the GPIAA’s only active specialist. An ex-civil aviation pilot he has reached his 70th birthday and is therefore now prevented from working for the government.

After three other specialists left in 2010 and 2011, Alves became the bureau’s last remaining investigator.

In a letter sent to Lusa, the Ministry explains that “some constraints relating to the hiring of investigators have been lifted, which means from now on it should be easier to recruit specialized investigators.”

Regarding the substitution of the current outgoing director, the Ministry hopes to “soon close a second tender launched for the director of the GPIAA.”

In April, when asked about the scenario, airline and ultra-light pilots said the situation was “worrying” and that it could have “incalculable” consequences if the GPIAA were to be left investigator-less.

They feared that the organism could “fall into an operational void.”

As a result of 75 percent of the investigators leaving in 2010 and 2011 a lot of the investigations being conducted were delayed.

According to a report from the GPIAA, 35 cases were passed on from last year to this year, these being 18 accident investigations and 17 cases relating to incidents, all of which occurred in the past three years.

In 2011, eleven investigations were launched. Last year fewer still were opened, but given that for most of 2012 there was only one investigator working, the workload multiplied.

To top it off, last year six of the accidents that were registered caused ten deaths.

No comments:

Post a Comment