O ESTADO DE S.PAULO
Widow sues American journalist
The widow of a victim of the Flight 1907 accident, on September 29, 2006, is bringing a suit asking for moral damages against American journalist Joseph M. Sharkey, one of the passengers on the Legacy which collided with the Gol Boeing 737-800. According to Oscar Fleischfresser, one of the lawyers for Rosane Gutjhar, who lost her husband, Rolf Ferdinando Gutjhar, in the accident, Sharkey is said to have launched in a blog (http://sharkeyonbrazil.blogspot.com), now deactivated, a campaign in favor of the jet's pilots, so that they would not be sent back to Brazil. "That fact, in itself, would not be subject to reproof, but the journalist began personal attacks against air traffic controllers and other domestic personalities and, in a reiterated and incisive form, he began to offend any and all Brazilians, in an indiscriminate manner", he said.
In the request, filed in the Civil Court of Curitiba, in Paraná, there is the suggestion that there be used a a parameter, for non-financial damages, values similar to those to which the journalist would be sentenced in his own country. "The other request is that there be a judicial determination that he apologize to all Brazilian citizens, in the same means of communication he used", concluded the lawyer.
In his current blog (http://joesharkeyat.blogspot.com/), Sharkey published, last September 29, a text on the second anniversary of the accident. Under a photo of pilots Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, he affirmed that "Brazilian military and police authorities rushed to allege that the pilots were negligent" and that "it became clear to me, soon after we landed in the jungle, that a cover-up and a search for scapegoats had begun". He also said that "the anti-American hysteria was palpable in the rush to criminalize the accident and blame the American pilots"and "the Brazilian air traffic control system is notoriously flawed".
Sharkey also criticizes the air traffic controllers' equipment and training, cites "radar blind spots over the Amazon"and says that the transponder had presented defects. He also says that the parallel investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) should be "by far, more just and precise" than the Brazilian.
[via Air Force Clipping]
Clarifications in respect to article in Carta Capital magazine
To Mister Mino Carta
Managing Editor – Carta Capital
In writing to you, I'd like to make a few comments on the article "Breakdown in the Air" (page 36), published in this week's edition, nº. 517, on accusations of supposed irregularities in Brazilian air traffic control.
The Air Force Command was not sought out to supply information that might have helped the article's author to clarify the matter for your readers, an action which would certainly characterize journalistic neutrality in the face of the accusations made.
On this same line of reasoning, the reader was not given the democratic principle of hearing the other side of these accusations, if only because the "truth" informed in the article is not absolute, but a version of matters that are eminently technical, fruit of the defense strategy of a lawyer doing his job.
Especially in the case of the X-4000 system for the treatment and visualization of radar data, the affirmations made in the article are distorted, it being enough to verify the Federal Court of Audit's Decision, which clarifies: "despite the notable quality of the work produced by the auditors, there is no way to affirm that said system is not safe for providing air traffic control services". While it refutes the auditors' argument in this respect, the Court registered the "high degree of proficiency" of the auditing team, as well as "congratulated the managers of DECEA for their collaborative and participative attitude, which greatly contributed to the work reaching a good conclusion".
It is worth emphasizing that the Air Force had alerted the press about documents released out of context with the apparent objective of discrediting the efficiency of the Brazilian Air Traffic Control system.
Frequently, Air Traffic Control System's own diagnostic tools are used out of context, just as prevention reports and records of occasional defects, are also used out of context. If, on the one hand, those records are presented to the press as proof of errors, on the other, for the Air Force Command, they show that the Department of Air Space Control (DECEA) has routine tools for the control and improvement of this system.
Brazil's Air Space Control System, which adopts genuinely Brazilian technical solutions, is an asset managed by 13,000 professionals, civilian and military, evaluated at more than R$ 6 billion, constructed over four decades and which answers for an area of operation almost three times larger than the country's own territory, due to international agreements. There are close to six thousand components - among radars, telecommunications system, navigational aids and meteorology, among others - many of them in duplicate, functioning 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, with a daily availability of 98% of this structure.
In 18 years, the number of aviation accidents in Brazil fell 58.5%, while the fleet of aircraft grew 50.8% (in absolute numbers). It's worth emphasizing that, in 1990, 2.51% of the fleet was involved in occurrences of this type, while in 2007 this statistic was only 0.85%.
In parallel, on consulting the Table of Factors Contributing to Civil Aviation Accidents from 1998 to 2007 (source: www.cenipa.aer.mil.br , link PPAA), one can verify that, of more than 20 factors which contributed to accidents in the country, air traffic control stands out by being the factor least present, with only 0.8% (it's the smallest indicator!).
If we were to analyze aeronautic incidents, in 2001 and 2002, for example, the United States registered, in absolute numbers, 2,082 air traffic incidents, according to the data released by that country's civil aviation body, the FAA. As it represents the world's busiest air space, the analysis of these numbers, in statistical terms, would be better suited to making comparisons. Therefore, for each 100,000 aviation movements in the USA, there were 1.59 cases of close approach between aircraft in 2002 and 1.62 cases in 2001.
In the 2003 to 2007 period, DECEA counted 482 air traffic incidents in Brazil, that is, 96.4 cases per year, which represents, in statistical terms, 1.37 cases per 100,000 movements, therefore, below the American average.
Finally, this Center for Social Communication has affirmed that treating a question of the future of the county's air traffic, without emotion and separate from special interests, is of vital importance for the future of Brazilian aviation. Flying in the country is safe, the system's diagnostic tools are functioning, and all the actions taken are in line with international safety standards.
Air Brigadier Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez
Head of the Air Force Center for Social Communication
Below follows the text published in the magazine Carta Capital
Breakdown in the Air
While the date September 29 has entered the almanac of funeral days in Brazil since 2006, with the deaths of 154 passengers on Gol Flight 1907, two years later it will be consolidated as well as marking a principle opposed to democratic rules, that is pronounced thus: hierarchy determines truth.
This is what the lawyer for the Brazilian Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations, Roberto Sobral had run up against. On Wednesday the 8th, he delivered a dossier with accusations that indicate the gravity of situation of the country's aviation sector, to the national president of the Brazilian Bar Association, Cezar Britto. In the pile of papers there's a detailed report of conditions. Standing out among the accusations is a document recently compiled by Sobral that proves, according to him, that the Air Force continues to conceal information.
"It's something to shock and terrify", the lawyer wrote in the dossier to the Bar. On page 57, in item 27 of Audit Report 20.840/2007-4, by the Federal Court of Audit, an "Air Force authority" says the following:
"In a meeting realized in the editor's office, the managers alleged that they have not made this change because they fear that doing so could be used in the courts, since the controllers involved in the Gol 1907 accident used, as a line of defense in the trial on the case, the thesis that this functionality had been one of the causes of the accident."
The alteration referred to in the TCU text refers to a management flaw in the X-4000 system.
This accusation, if proved, would leave the Air Force authorities exposed to the accusation of practicing a criminal act, from the fact of having taken measures "to not admit the controllers are right, who there indicated one of the flaws that led to the collision with Gol Flight 1907", as Roberto Sobral affirms.
Since the accident, the Air Force has insisted on the thesis that there were no system failures that contributed to the accident. The lawyer disagrees and guarantees that "there are known official documents that reveal radar visualization flaws, flaws in radio equipment, flaws in the system". But, according to him, instead of showing the flaws, "the Air Force command indicated and indicates unilateral responsibility of the controllers on duty on that route, on that day, weakening the loyalty that a commandant should have to his subordinates".
As it is, everything has been kept to a criminal case against four specialist sergeants. In March of 2008, Sobral filed with the Supreme Court a case against the Air Force commander, brigadier Juniti Saito, for the "crime of abandoning one's post, perpetrated by the members of the high command", who, on March 30, 2006 (sic, should be 2007) had ordered the removal of all Air Force officers from air traffic control rooms in Brazil. With this, during a span of almost four days, they had left all flights exposed to accidents.
Sobral hasn't given up hope. After a conversation with justice Celso de Mello, he began to believe that the full STF will hear the suit, which, if accepted, would cause the immediate removal of brigadier Saito.