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Brazilian Air Tragedy: Legacy’s Controller Isn’t Fit for the Post

The Brazilian air traffic controller who was monitoring the Legacy executive jet that collided on September 29 with a Boeing 737 killing all 154 people aboard wasn’t prepared for the job and had been just rushed into the position by insistence of the military brass, against the objection of his instructor who didn’t agree with the arrangement.

This new piece of information is being published today, November 23, by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, which says that the Brazilian Air Force authorities’ insistence in approving new flight controllers due to the serious lack of staff may have led to Brazil’s worst air tragedy ever.

The controller in charge of the Legacy, which was piloted by two Americans, says the newspaper, after interviewing other flight controllers from Brasí­lia, had little hands-on experience and had received his certification earlier this year, well after his class’s colleagues.

Instructors have been critical of a system that puts pressure on them to let controllers pass the exam even when they are not ready for the demanding job.

To become a flight controller in Brazil people go through a course and at the end have to pass at least five of six practical tests. Commenting on the man responsible for the Legacy, a Brasí­lia instructor said that he was not up to the task:

"Not because he was incompetent but because he was someone who had difficulty concentrating. Several times he was warned that he couldn’t be that absentminded. This is not his fault, but it is a character trait that in normal circumstances would have prevented him from being  qualified for the post. However, after much insistence, he managed to be approved."

And he added: "During his instruction, it was evident that he was slow, but this the kind of work that requires agility."

Even after the Boeing tragedy, some controllers disclosed,  the Air Force continued trying to bring unqualified Air Defense sergeants to work in the civilian air traffic control. More recently, however, instructors are refusing to accept those who have not enough training.

"This is not an English language course that you can increase the number of classes so that people can learn faster. Here, each dot represents 150 lives," says the instructor.

Another information that just came to light is that at the time of the collision between the Legacy and the Boeing the air traffic controllers’ supervisor at the Brasí­lia tower, also known as Cindacta 1, wasn’t at his post. The men in the tower had no supervision because the lieutenant who should be there had to take over for an Air Force chief at the main control room.

The Air Force is not making any comment on this absence, maintaining that the details of what happened in the control tower on September 29 are object of official investigation.

They also refuse to talk about reports that the controller in charge of the small jet was not qualified for the task. Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, however, repeated this Wednesday, November 22, that all professionals in the Brazilian air traffic control are fully qualified.

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  • Show Comments (6)

  • An American

    To stephen
    À¢€œ Joe Sharkey called for a tourism boycott today for Americans traveling to Brazil! Lets see if the mainstream media in the USA picks up on this and runs with it.À¢€Â

    Well, the problem Stephen is that we are running out of places to go in this world. Lets take a closer look. We canÀ¢€™t go anywhere in the Middle East, Asia just had a mass demonstration against us to commemorate the arrival of G.W.B. The Europeans that we always thought to be our brothers just had a pole from Portugal to Norway that sad À¢€œAmerica is the number one cause of disruption of peace in the world todayÀ¢€Â and no wonder the French, the Germans the Irish etcÀ¢€¦etcÀ¢€¦donÀ¢€™t like us anymore, canÀ¢€™t go to Mexico because we built a Wall now À¢€¦ CanÀ¢€™t go to Canada because they sell us substandard medication to our aging population for half the price. Blair is in his way out now, and George Galloway popularity is way up, and he is in his way in, so pretty soon we canÀ¢€™t go to Britain either. China doesnÀ¢€™t need us anymore we need them nowÀ¢€¦ India moved to Washington DC and is looking to outsource the Congress.
    So that leave us with Poland and the Island of Cameroon witch is about the size of our À¢€œcoalition forcesÀ¢€Â going into Iraq. So my question to you Stephen is if you seen À¢€œthe good old America that the generations past worked so hard to build and were so proud off, let me know!!!
    Mean while Americans everywhere should keep concentrating in other countryˢ۪s faults so we can improve the perception of our image in the world.

  • ch.c.

    Furthermore…….
    ….whoever will finally be found guilty of the error(s), will have to be judged the same way as was told to the US pilots : Involuntary Manslaughter and facing up to 20 years in jail ! This is what Brazilian Ministers and Judges said ! Correct ? Hopefully they wont change their mind…..NOW or LATER ! Otherwise this will be a confirmation of a multi speed justice…..depending of who is guilty !

  • ch.c.

    Another indication………
    …of the US pilots innocence !

    Another confirmation, that open accusations insistence from Pires and Amorim against the US pilots, before the end of the investigation, were made on purpose to try to hide the overall Numerous problems of the Brazilian ATCs !

    No doubt that justice will prevail !

  • Rick

    1. My experience is that Brazilian controllers and tower people are pleased when one speaks English to them instead of Portuguese, workload permitting. In other words, they are always trying to practice and upgrade their English, especially in general aviation contexts, getting ready for the higher jobs.
    2. It is a basic principle of aviation management that if the pilot canÀ‚´t cut it, or the mechanic, or the dispacher, the fault lies with personnel, not with the employee.

  • mark

    Just a really terrible accident… lets hope everyone involves learns & the people affected can one day find some peace knowing that it was an accident, and ofcourse after the event many things should have been done.
    As for the pilots held in Brazil… ofcourse this is not fair, but I am not sure should this have happened in America that this situation would be different?

    Please do not respond to the idiots on here, they are not worth a responce and only represent the low life in society.

  • Stephen

    Observer
    Are you suprised? I think not if you live here and know what really goes on! If this guy was a dimwit how and why did he even get past the door? Joe Sharkey called for a tourism boycott today for Americans traveling to Brazil! Lets see if the mainstream media in the USA picks up on this and runs with it.

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