Brazilian Air Controllers Can’t Leave Their Tower Before Sunday

Ulisses Fontenele, the former president of Brazil’s Flight Controllers Association charged today, November 2, that 80 from a group of 190 air traffic controllers are being kept as "prisoners" and forced since yesterday by the Brazilian authorities to stay at the BrasÀ­lia’s Air Defense and Air Traffic Control Integrated Center (Cindacta 1).

"This is military quartering," he protested.

To face the chaotic situation in the Brazilian airports since a group of air controllers took a leave of absence for psychiatric treatment precipitated by the September 29 Boeing 737 collision with another small plane (154 people were killed in the crash), the Air Force decided to summon 149 military air traffic controllers to help in the emergency situation.

Fontenele criticizes the measure being taken by the Air Force brass saying they will not solve the problems with flight delays – up to 20 hours in some cases – taking place for a week now in all major Brazilian airports.

Fontenele accuses the Air Force of maintaining the air controllers in a closed space and forcing them to work under an extreme level of stress. Says he, "The stress is so high that you will even find people crying for not being able to handle such pressure." And he adds: "I want to know how are they going to sleep and whether is there any place for them to rest."

According to Fontenele, the military controllers have been threatened with court martial if they leave the Cindacta before Sunday, November 5. "If they are court-martialed," he informs, "they lose all their rights."

Fontenele said that he only decided to speak out because the president of the Controller’s Association, Wellington Rodrigues, has been suffering all kinds of pressure from Brazil’s aviation authorities to keep quiet.

For Fontenele, who was a flight controller himself, a solution for the present chaos has to include the demilitarization of the air traffic controller’s career. That would allow the creation of plan establishing job descriptions and wages for the profession.

Today, a controller starts with a 1,600 reais (US$ 748) monthly salary  and won’t make more than 3,200 reais as long as he stays there. A recent raise proposal was not approved because air controllers would then make more than some high-ranking military officers.

The low salary is being a drain to the profession. Many controllers are leaving after the minimum five-year period they are committed to when they start the job. They find out that they can make more money and avoid much stress in other occupations.

Air Force brigadier known only by his last name Bueno denied that the controllers are prisoners. "They are military. They haven’t been taken into custody, they are not prisoners. They have been summoned. This is a military barrack and there is always the possibility that they might be called to do some overtime."

Bueno also informed that the controllers have a doctor and five psychologists at their disposal. Those who can’t handle the situation will be able to go home, he assured.


  • Show Comments (10)

  • ch.c.

    Reais 1600.-….starting salary for ATC!
    – This is almost 5 times the new minimum salary ! Not bad for a start ! Tens of millions Brazilians dream to have such a “low” salary” !
    – As per the latest IBGE the September Average Salary in the 6 largest urban centers of Brazil stood at 1’030.20 Reais and 1’147.- in SP ALONE (for August) ! THEREFORE A STARTING SALARY OF 1,5 TIME THE AVERAGE SALARY OF THE LARGEST URBAN CENTERS INCLUDING SP…..IS REALLY NOT BAD AT ALL !!!!!
    – 5 times the minimum salary at the start for a young citizen is very rare and unusual…in developed countries ! Why Brazilians ATC complain… ? They are more lucky than anybody else….even from ATC in developed countries ! And the maximum of 9 times the minimum wage is even more unusual for a regular employee…at the end of his career !!!!!! A dream, a mirage not a reality……in developed countries !

    -It is funny how by now the Brazilian ATC say that their not so “low” salary is a drain.
    Just refer to articles saying that the Brazilians ATC are THE BEST IN THE WORLD !!!!!


    And why their passports were not confiscated, just as they were seized from the US pilots ? And why were the ATC allowed to NOT testify due to psychiatric illness….when in reality the only ones that were mentally shocked by the plane crash……were the US pilots….to whom the same preferential treatment was NOT provided ??????

    Again and again, the more news and facts that are coming out, just demonstrate how
    the Brazilian Justice, Government and Aviation industry, have a multi-speed Justice : some laws and application and interpretation of them are if foreigners are involved but not applied and interpredted differently if local citizens are involved. And worse of all, depending of who the local citizen is. If some ATC cannot handle the situtation…they will be freed to go home….but the US pilots were never ever given such a privilege !!!!!!!

    Again, if one wants to avoid problems, avoid Brazil and their way of doing things.
    Going in Brazil has a very high risk of being obliged to bribe continually police/custom agents, civil servants for whatever Wrong and illegal reasons, have a risk to be found guilty for a crime not commited, to be assaulted, injured and robbed by streets criminal in the millions all over tghe country. And finally to be MURDERED VOLUNTARY ….as it just happened to a US citizen ! So much common sense, that after having been questionned, the partner, involved in this crime, was freed, and by now cannot be found to be prosecuted because he disappeared ! Truly unique but not exceptional….in Brazil !!!!

    Injustice, crooks and criminals are really everywhere and at ALL levels of the Brazilian society.

  • ch.c.

    ooops….typing mistake…..
    …it is 2 or 3 millions Brazilians that are illegally in AMERICA !!!!!

    I have not even counted the millions of Brazilians….in the EU region !!!

    We are at home in our homeland. Brazilians should not feel at home elsewhere than in Brazil….by definition !

  • ch.c.

    To : parqueantÀƒ¡rtica
    In view of your stupid comments, I can only assume that…….parqueantÀƒ¡rtica….is your real name !
    And sorry it is not 2 or 3 millions Americans that are illegally in Brazil, but 2 or 3 millions Brazilians that are illegally in Brazil !

    In that sense I finally agree with you : Brazilians should be sent back……in sea containers ! At your Government expenses….of course ! But you know as well as me that your Government doesnt care about their own citizens ! Just look how the tens and tens of poor Brazilians are treated in their Tropical Mud, by the crooks governing your country !

    No doubt that few Americans or EU citizens have a desire to go in Hell…named Brazil !

  • ch.c.

    To : Righto
    The show doesnt start, it continues the one Brazilians….started !
    Just re-read articles, and comments from this forum or the statements made by your own Foreign Relations Minister Amorim, and your Defense Minister……just to name a few !

    Continuing is not starting……contrary to what you may suggest !

    Hopefully, Brazilians will expect the same justice for their ATC as the justice they expected if the US pilots would have been guilty, namely : guilty of Involuntary
    Manslaughter with a potential jail term of up to 20 years in prison !

    Stand up NOW to your laws JUST ONCE, and send your official apologizes to those you accused as guilty (especially Your Government Members)……. well before the end of the investigations !

  • ch.c.

    What a joke…….these Brazilians ATC !!!!!!!
    It was quite fair in their view that a similar treatment have been given to the US pilots…..INNOCENTS, but so unfair for those ATC…GUILTY !!!!!!

    AS TO DOWN WITH OFFENSIVE POST, SORRY but the accusations of the US pilots being guilty started from ALL OVER BRAZIL……WELL BEFORE THE END OF THE INVESTIGATIONS. You are so great and smart that you know the reason of an accident…without even having done an investigation. Brazilians know everyrthing in advance. Just look at Lula statements and promises of a great economic growth…year after year….while he failed 3 out of 4 years !!!!!!!!!! Soooooo smart !

    Brazilians are really a bunch of uneducated, uninspiring crooks, cheaters and criminals.
    You only excel in corruptions, violence, crimesm impunity and wealth inequality. Just look at your world ranking !!!!! You are born losers. Therefore cheating and lying is in your blood, in your soul !

    From the EU

  • parqueantártica

    The same message EX PAT!
    offensive, ignorant, stupid, dishonest, cynical, brutal, sordid can’t you get it why we couldn’t care less about what your specific opinions are ?

    Go home, what your doing here Go back to your country. It is such a waste of time coming across people like you

    cynical pseudo intellectual individual…you hide yourself writing anonymous posts with your biased dishonest (agenda) comments just for the sake of bashing people..gross

    Down with offensive gringos! You’re part of the world’s problem, stop looking exclusively to your bellies and learn something decent in your life, stupids

  • Righto

    Ex Phart
    Now the show starts…
    Here comes a real dog in you amerirotten..lets see the dog tricks..over the words…
    come on…

  • ex pat

    “Dont assume that we will believe in any word that is printed in your article.”

    It’s a Brazilian news source, and you are in serious need of medication. You no longer represent that infamously retarded side of the Brazilian population, your stupidity has catapulted you to the echelons of supreme stupid being. Please die. The gene pool will not suffer without you.

  • Righto

    What a great fusion of civil and military movie fiction !
    Dont assume that we will believe in any word that is printed in your article. Give proofs, that this is done, and give also proofs that what is being done is not for good, or for bad, and make a statement, just saying that the breeze is blowing and the sun is shining…..doesnt make a writer….
    just on some other post somebody said….in several other countries…(including the very bad amerirottens) the presidents or the govts have taken extreme steps to control untoward situations,,…irrespective of whatever may be the reason of origin of the problem. Current, and Future is important. No doubt learn from the past. Not like you idot. Who does not even know how to write an article, by time time probably your blood circulation has already slowed down. Now…Amerirottens…………start the show…….live to your reputation…

  • ex pat

    Ahhh, meus deus!

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