Brazil Controllers Disclose a Near Air Tragedy One Week Ago

The Brazilian Air Force says that they have no report of a near collision involving military or civilian planes in recent days, but three flight controllers say that 45 days after the air accident that killed 154 people another tragedy involving two planes almost happened again in the skies of Brazil.

The three air traffic controllers from Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, told their story but asked to remain anonymous in order to avoid any retaliation from their military bosses

The too-close-for-comfort incident, according to these men, occurred November 13, a Monday, around 3 pm, 45 days after the shock between the Legacy piloted by two Americans and the Gol’s Boeing 737, over the Amazon forest in the state of Mato Grosso.

Although both planes, one from the FAB (Brazilian Air Force) and the other from a commercial airliner, have crossed paths 2 nautical miles away from each other, the proximity is considered dangerous and grave and can be seen as a grazing between the two aircraft. Aviation experts don’t call it critical however.

The revelation about the near accident was made by Folha de S. Paulo, the Brazilian diary with the largest circulation in the country. in its November 19 Sunday issue.

According to air control rules, planes are supposed to keep a distance of 10 miles with 5 miles being the minimum acceptable between aircraft in the same altitude. When they are in different altitudes they are supposed to have a 1,000 feet separation.

The work of maintaining planes far apart at all times is the responsibility of air controllers, who are supposed to contact pilots when a course correction is needed.

It happens that the Brazilian Air Force, two weeks after the Gol accident, decided to put the Air Defense in charge of the military planes taking them out from the flight controllers jurisdiction.

The idea was to cut in line preventing military flights from being caught into the work-to-rule campaign by air traffic controllers, which crippled air travel in Brazil, delaying flight up to 20 hours.

The incident reported by the anonymous controllers happened when a commercial plane flying to São Paulo left the Brasí­lia airport and started its ascent. At that moment, the monitor of a controller showed the two planes crossing one over the other.

For a moment he didn’t know what to do and feared the worst had happened. It’s possible though that the pilots of the planes never noticed how close they were of each other.

Routine procedures at the air control tower require that incidents like this one be reported so that an internal investigation can be conducted. After all the denials from the FAB, however, it’s doubtful that any report will be filed.

Controllers were particularly tense that Monday, after two weeks of delayed flights and chaos in all major Brazilian airports. Forced to remain for days in the Brasí­lia control center (Cindacta 1) some workers weren’t feeling good.

In two occasions, the anonymous controllers revealed, some of them protested what they called undue interference by the Air Defense in their work.


  • Show Comments (6)

  • Marcelo Paulista

    Get Real! Brazilian air traffic control is in chaos. It is a shame that the two american pilots are still detained here. There is no evidence that they acted against the air safety standards. Quite the opposite if we look to what the air force did to the flight controlers. They were kept detained until the huge delays were sorted-out. They were punished because they were acting according to the rules. For many years pilots, flight controllers complained about the lack of care with equipment and personel. The federal government put money on new terminals while radar, communication facilities and training of flight controlers were put on the lowest priority. A shame and there is no excuses for that.
    Now we start to know about many near-misses that happened before the Gol crash. Meanwhile, Waldir Pires says that he was unaware of the whole situation. He should have resigned. In fact, he should never be put in any executive position after his failures as State Governor in Bahia and as minister during Sarney’s term.
    A group of people that has to go is now at ANAC – The Brazilian Agency for civil aviation. The agency is a failure since its first day of activities. Their mis-handling of the Varig’s crisis was a “preview” of their shows of imense incompetence. The head of ANAC, Mr. Zuanazzi, has no background in aviation…

  • souto

    to realgivp
    Brilliantly spoken realgivp… Brilliant !!!.

    Very soon I will have his full name, address and even his phone number for everybody on this site…its going to be great!!!!!!!!!!

  • Norman Kemble

    Dude….. What is your story? Again, I must ask if you work for excel (and I know you are not a pilot there or anywhere). And if not who in your family/friends does? The blame is shared in this accident. There were multiple mistakes made, including the pilots. excel is not a company you would want to have your name associated with. Unless of course your reputation is so disrespectable that you no longer care to protect it. Of course reading your postings with every article answers that.

  • ch.c.


  • ch.c.

    Quite normal that…….
    “Routine procedures at the air control tower require that incidents like this one be reported so that an internal investigation can be conducted. After all the denials from the FAB, however, it’s doubtful that any report will be filed.”

    That is Brazil way of life…..afterall !!!!!

    Hiding and lying….too !!!! Just look at all the contradictory reports of the plane crash….but still having the US pilots as responsible….as your Minister wearing Pampers : Pires, and also as per the Minister of Foreign Relations : Amorim !
    Strange attitude !

  • alltheway

    Brasilian population control = get on a plane

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