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05BOGOTA10950 2005-11-23 19:56:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
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231956Z Nov 05
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 010950 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2015

Classified By: DCM Milton Drucker for Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. Troubling developments in Colombia,s civil
aviation sector have brought to post,s attention that
Colombia,s last FAA safety assessment took place in 1999.
Recent plane crashes and questions concerning the integrity
of the CAA,s safety oversight function suggest, at the
least, that the GOC should evaluate current procedures and
personnel to ensure compliance with ICAO standards. End


FAA Officials Express Concern


2. (C) On September 27, visiting FAA officials (working as
technical consultants to the GOC) met with DCM and Econoff to
discuss their concerns regarding the CAA,s Air Safety
Division. Based on their observations, FAA officials believe
a recent pattern of insufficient oversight and improper
inspections may warrant a technical safety review by the FAA
of Colombian compliance with ICAO standards. The following
issues were noted:

3. (C) Untrained/Incompetent Workers: Although CAA,s Air
Safety workers do have previous industry experience, FAA
inspectors believe they are inadequately trained. The FAA
officials noted certain supervisors ignored cases where
inspectors provided negative operator inspection reports that
should have resulted in the grounding of unsafe aircraft.
The FAA inspectors speculate that corruption may have
influenced the inspection process.

4. (C) AeroSucre,s Airworthiness: CAA had grounded
AeroSucre due to numerous air safety violations, but the
order was recently rescinded. The FAA officials believe CAA
Director General Fernando Sanclemente lifted the restrictions
on AeroSucre due to political pressures from the company,s
president, Jorge Solano, and not as a result of corrective
action taken by the Colombia cargo carrier.

5. (U) Satena,s Airworthiness: According to FAA
inspectors, Satena, an airline operated by the Colombia Air
Force, does not have permission from the CAA,s Air Safety
Division to fly commercial flights. However, FAA officials
state that Satena continues to serve the public, despite the
fact that under CAA air safety regulations its planes should
undergo more stringent oversight. Embassy notes that Satena
flies regularly scheduled commercial flights
(Bogota-Medellin) and has a thriving charter business. The
Air Force does not believe it is covered by civil regulations.


Meeting with CAA


6. (U) On October 26, DCM met with CAA Director General
Fernando Sanclemente regarding issues voiced by visiting FAA
officials over apparent lapses in compliance with ICAO safety
standards and questions regarding the integrity of the CAA,s
inspection process. Sanclemente expressed concern over the
DCM,s presentation, and offered assurances that Colombia was
in full compliance with all ICAO safety standards. He
further added that although AeroSucre had financial problems,
it had provided an action plan displaying the manner in which
it would eliminate its debt without risking the air safety of
its flights. In addition, Sanclemente explained that since
Satena is owned and operated by the Colombian Air Force, it
is not required to meet CAA,s air safety standards.
Instead, he assured Post that Satena follows an equally
rigorous set of Colombian Air Force air safety regulations.




7. (C) Recent developments (including the crash of a West
Caribbean flight, AeroSucre,s changing airworthiness status,
and the recent resignation of CAA Air Safety Secretary
Captain Julio Consuegra) have focused attention on
Colombia,s air safety situation. The fact that Colombia,s
last safety inspection was in 1999 suggests, at the least,
that the GOC should do a thorough evaluation of its current
procedures and its personnel to ensure its compliance with
ICAO standards. In addition, post is concerned that rumored
outside pressure on CAA could affect its objectivity.
Therefore, FAA support for an evaluation would be desirable.