August 29, 2011
DANGER IN THE AIR
Demilitarization of air traffic control is again debated
Minister of Civil Aviation, Wagner Bittencourt, dusted off proposal to use civilians in monitoring
Concerned about the growth of air traffic in the country and the defects in safety apparatus, the presidential palace is again negotiating with the flight controllers. On Thursday, the Minister of Civil Aviation, Wagner Bittencourt, talked for three hours with representatives of the category, reopening discussions on the demilitarization of the sector.
The controllers presented an x-ray of the system to the Minister. Among the participants in the meeting, were military personnel relieved of duties and answering before the Superior Military Tribunal for the 2007 mutiny. This was another step in rapprochement. Last Monday, Minister of Communications Paulo Bernardo testified in defense of the 51 defendants in the sit-down strike that paralyzed the country's main airports that year.
A day before meeting with the controllers, Bittencourt said in an interview with Zero Hora that the category's problems "have been overcome." In the Sunday edition, ZH revealed how successive errors in air traffic control almost resulted in new accidents. At just Cindacta 1, in Brasilia, there are at least 16 recorded instances of near collisions this year. The Air Force, however, assures that the system is secure and cites audits by international organizations, according to which Brazil achieves 95% compliance in operating and safety procedures.
Since 2008 the government has flirted with demilitarization. In November of that year, the controllers' leaders went so far as to discuss the terms of the change with the then Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and with the direction of the National Civil Aviation Agency. The model being studied foresaw the creation of a mixed capital company to perform air traffic control in the country. It would be a kind of Infraero (government-owned company which manages airports), but with private participation. The controllers would continue as public servants, but as civilians. The negotiations, however, were suspended.
The Palace ran into resistance by the Air Force command. The officers refuse to relinquish air traffic control and fear losing the resources guaranteed by managing the system, estimated at $ 2 billion annually. The National Syndicate of Airline Enterprises (SNEA) sees no problem in any demilitarization. For Ronaldo Jenkins, technical director of SNEA, it is important that the air control be safe and effective. But the National Union of Airmen prefer the end of military control.
"There is no transparency. Nobody knows what happens in the towers, in the area control and approach," complains Carlos Camacho, director of flight safety for the entity.
August 28, 2011
DANGER IN THE AIR
Collection of errors in the sky of Brazil
Zero Hour had access to confidential reports show how the Air Force that successive errors in air traffic control barely caused more deaths in accidents involving aircraft in Brazil in recent years
Every week, planes filled with passengers across the sky of the country. Failure to radar, radio communication with pilots, and oversight as primary deficiencies in the training of flight controllers are factors that can increase the risk of a tragedy in the air. Five years after the Gol accident which killed 154 people, the problems are repeated.
Zero Hour had access to confidential Air Force documents reporting successive errors in the air traffic control system. There are descriptions of risky procedures by pilots, alerted by the aircraft collision avoidance system, needing to make evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in midair. Only in recent days, two incidents took place in Brasilia. In one, an OceanAir (now Avianca) plane had just taken off toward the northeast when it encountereda Beechjet jet traveling at the same output. The flights were monitored by an intern at the Center for Integrated Air Defense and Air Traffic Control of Brasilia (Cindacta 1), and the instructor did not notice the approaching aircraft.
"The OceanAir was a lick away from the back of the jet. It was scary" says one of the Air Force airmen involved in the investigations.
In another instance, a Pilatus aircraft which had gone from Belo Horizonte (MG) to Brasilia Juscelino Kubitschek arrived at the airport at the same time as a TAM Airbus. The airliner was behind, but was faster than the Pilatus. They were at the same altitude, two miles distant - the rules require five miles of separation - before the TAM Airbus evaded.
In at least six of eight reports, controllers' assistants admit that they were involved in other duties when the incidents occurred. This is what happened on December 7 of last year. From inattention, the controller did not notice the anti-collision warning flashing on the radar. The system pointed to the risk of a collision between TAM aircraft traveling in opposite directions - São Paulo / Brasilia and Brasilia / São Paulo. When flying over the outskirts of the federal capital, the two Airbus had to make evasive maneuvers.
The controller says that he restricted the flight altitude of one jet, but did not check if the message had been received by the pilot. The two aircraft crossed in the sky. In the Air Force report, the controller admits fault, caused by the workload.
"I slept very little last night, due to problems with insomnia due to the high workload," the airman vented.