By João Paulo Moralez
From 2017 to 2020, 14 aviation accidents in Brazil left 14 dead and 20 injured in irregular air transport flights conducted by companies that were not authorized to carry out this type of activity.
Clandestine Air Transport, or popularly known as a pirate flights, costs, in many cases, up to half the price of a flight hired to a regular air taxi company for this type of activity.
Passenger’s lack of knowledge about this practice and the ways to ascertain whether or not the company is qualified for the activity has influenced the increase in cases.
Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) banned 39 aircraft used in clandestine flights in 2018, in addition to another 227 in 2019 and 49 companies. In December 2019 alone, in two days of operation, the ANAC seized 33 aircraft and 82 boxes of maintenance parts, interdicted six clandestine establishments and arrested 17 people.
In 2019, 718 complaints were received about the practice of illegal activity, with the majority of cases (35%) concentrated in the Southeast region and mainly in the State of São Paulo.
In addition to expanding enforcement, Brazil has also increased the fines by 10 times for those who practice illegal activity. Those caught transporting passengers will pay up to R$ 200 thousand and for those who carry out maintenance without certification and authorization, the fine is R$ 150 thousand. The measure is a way of discouraging the performance of flights and maintenance, considering that the values are very high compared to what is charged per flight.
On December 16, 2020, the Air Charter Safety Alliance Group was created as a way to coordinate efforts to combat illegal air taxi through awareness of potential users, commercial intermediaries and authorities.
Besides the Brazilian General Aviation Association (ABAG), are part of this coalition the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA), British Business & General Aviation Association (BBGA), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), French Business Aviation Association (EBAA France), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
The coalition will develop and promote a number of operational safety programs for air taxi operators, based on SMS (Safety Management Systems), flight data recording and incident reporting with a focus on operational safety culture.
The group’s objective is to add value to certified air taxi operators by coordinating efforts to identify and deter illegal operators that compromise aviation security.
Despite the fact that most charter aircraft operations comply with local and international regulatory standards, clandestine air taxi operations still occur worldwide, increasing the risk for unsuspecting passengers and impacting the economic health of regularly certified operators.
Over the next two months, the coalition will collect best practices from the various participating associations, create an online platform and start an educational campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal air taxi.