Air Force Chief Admits Air Controller Might Have Led to Brazil’s Air Tragedy

In a public hearing in the Senate, today, November 21, for the first time, Brazil’s Air Force commander, brigadier Luiz Carlos Bueno, admitted that a mistake of an air traffic controller in BrasÀ­lia might have led to the collision between the Boeing 737 and the Legacy executive jet, which resulted in 154 deaths and the worst air accident in Brazilian history.

Talking to the senators Bueno said that "it might have been a mistake" in a information given by a flight controller who was finishing his work shift on September 29, the day the crash over the Amazon jungle occurred. The brigadier was heard by the a joint session of the Infrastructure, Foreign Relations and National Defense committees.

According to Bueno, the controller who was just leaving his shift told the person who took over for him "a false piece of information he thought was true." He informed his colleague that the Legacy was at an altitude of 36,000 feet when in reality the plane piloted by two Americans was flying at 37,000 feet.

"I think that there was an inducement that the plane was on level 360 (36,000 feet) since the operator passed this information. The new controller had no doubt that the plane was on level 360."

Bueno took pains, however, to say that everything is still being investigated and that whatever he might say was just based on information he had up to this moment and on his own personal experience as an Air Force pilot.

The Air Force commander reiterated that the flight plan for the Legacy was to fly from São José dos Campos, where the plane was bought, to Brasí­lia at 37,000 feet, descending to 36,000 feet in Brasí­lia and then ascending to 38,000 feet on its way to Manaus: "What happens is that when the Legacy passed through Brasí­lia it stopped talking and its transponder stopped transmitting."

The radar, said the brigadier, adjusted the altitude in the flight controller’s monitor to 36,000 feet according to the original flight plan while the plane, in fact, was at  37,000 feet.

"The controller just trusted what the equipment was saying. What we don’t know is why the Legacy pilots communication and the transponder started to work again normally after the collision."

Among those taking part in the Senate’s public hearing were  Defense Minister, Waldir Pires; the president of the National Agency of Civil Aviation, Milton Zuanazzi; the president of Infraero, the Brazilian air authority, brigadier José Carlos Pereira and the president of the Air Companies Union, Marco Antonio Bologna. Jorge Botelho, president of the controllers union, was also present.

Controllers Deposition

The Brazilian Federal police are taking today the depositions of 13 flight controllers who were working when the accident occurred to examine if they can be blamed for the Boeing 737 tragedy. Three of them are from São José dos Campos and the other 10 from Brasí­lia’s air control tower, also known as Cindacta 1.

The depositions are being taken by police chief Ruben José Maleiner from the Investigation and Prevention Coordination of Aeronautical Accidents of the Federal Police.

Police Chief, Renato Sayão, who is in charge of the investigation, is on medical leave due to a disk hernia crisis.


  • Show Comments (13)

  • Rick

    I went back and read this blog again. I donÀ‚´t know any of these people, but for the non-flying public, all this is confusing. “realgivp” means that the writer is type-rated in a Gulfstream IV, a very expensive business jet. Evidently some kind of intercine rivalry is going on…..

  • Wiken

    This is a very interesting exchange of insults. Reveals that some of the posts here are motivated by job-related interests (“me” is in that category), and not exactly by any genuine interest on the fate of the victims and the Legacy pilotsÀ¢€™ situation.
    By the way, judging from a previous message by “me”, posted in another thread about the same subject, I even suspected that he was Great Joe Sharkey himself, e.g. the undisputed number 1 Brazil Hater. His unimaginative and repetitive use of the verb “fan” led me to that assumption.
    From the most primitive-minded and possibly violent people (such as “ch.c.”, for instance) to the more sophisticated and cunning (like “me” himself, why not?), looks like almost everybody here works or used to work for ExcelAire – which they affectionately call “excel”. That explains a lot, and I am not as intrigued now as I was when I started reading the Gol accident-related threads on this forum.

  • Norman Kemble

    To me whoever you are
    Seems like this is a reoccurring theme so here it goes again. Sorry asshole but you are wrong. If you know who I am then you know that I was not fired by excel. If you know excel (by the way do you work there too with ch.c??) then you would know that I am acting with the same frustration that you accord to ch.c posts. I will point out my own frustration since your post is to discredit me and take away attention from excel. My frustration is with Joe Sharkeyˢ۪s constantly changing story about what happened, where he was when it happened, where the other passengers were when it happened and his personal relationship with excel and David Rimmer (is this you Dave?). Do you know that he took other trips on excel airplanes in return for doing stories on excel?

    If revenge is seeking that the truth to come out, no matter what, and with no regard to any individual and any company then yes, it is revenge that I seek. If I have information that can be used in this case and I stand by in complicity and do not act on it, then I am no better than the people who are using this to further themselves. Also, the only people that hate me are the ones that I stand up to and refuse to do illegal things for. Of those there are many. My integrity and personal accountability will not let me do what is not right; whether that would be refusing À¢€˜questionableÀ¢€Â trips, working outside federal guidelines, not receiving adequate (or any) training or condoning procedures by my lack of action. What I am asking is that excel be held to the same accountability standards that you, ch.c and others are demanding of the BrazilianÀ¢€™s and the investigation. By not asking the same thing of , you and others are either condoning their involvement or trying to deflect attention away from them. With the former you are being disingenuous at the least and with the latter you are being, in my opinion, criminally negligent.

    So me, I have to ask what your agenda is. Obviously by attacking me it is not seeking the full truth. I donˢ۪t care who knows who I am. I am here, will be here and am neither leaving nor changing my name. I have not changed my name and this is the only name that I have posted under.

    Since you know who I am, call. Send an email. If you know me, than I probably know you. We can meet and discuss the issues. But, that wonÀ¢€™t happen if you are who I think you areÀ¢€¦. will it? By The Way, who is À¢€œweÀ¢€Â?? (Is that you George? Or maybe Pat?)

  • Dette

    Cause in not Blame
    This is an accident. 154 beautiful souls were lost. 7 fellow human beings survived in a damaged plane. No one meant for this to happen. This is not about blame. This is not a criminal investigation. This is not a matter for the courts. I am an American and I have prayed every day since the accident for the people of Brazil and for the Americans who survived. There is a lesson to be learned in what happened. But, that lesson is not about blame and unfounded accusations. For now, the Brazilian people who are suffering from the loss of their loved ones should be allowed to heal. The Brazilian air traffic controllers who are under tremendous pressures should be allowed some peace. And, the American pilots who have been detained should be allowed to return to their homeland where some peace and healing can begin for them. This was a tragic accident that requires an investigation. There is cause to be determined. Right now, this tragedy needs compassion and prayer.

  • me

    a little harsh
    ch.c is being a little harsh I must say and the responses are equally harsh. I think the main idea of his posts are frustration at the corruption and cover up which is obvious but now is coming to light.

    The name calling is pointless except in the case of realgivp. We know who you are you idiot. You don’t know how to cover your tracks very well. Just because you got fired from Excel is no reason to go around spreading this crap online and using this tragedy to further your personal agenda of revenge. Loser! Nobody could stand working with you. Now try changing your name and hiding again.

    To JC in reference to a previous post (if you read this)…I’m sure the Brazilian ATC system is very impressive but none of that technology is useful if they are understaffed and officers are hushed by the defense minister who would rather cover his own ass than to fix real problems. He’s a politician, that says it all. He should stand back and let the professional officers and controllers who know what they are doing make it work properly and quit interfering and hobbling the system.

    To jony…Your understanding of the procedures the pilots should have followed is incorrect. In the absense of radio communications they should remain at the highest of previously assigned altitude, altitude told to expect in a further clearance, or that which was filed in their flight plan. Since the flight plan altitude at the time of the collision was lower than the previously assigned altitude, regulations would prohibit them from descending to 36,000′ as Pires and the media is implying.

    It was a terrible accident. Innocent people who did nothing wrong lost their lives. No one intended or wanted that to happen except maybe realgivp but he’s a selfish loser and he always was. No one is to blame but the system that failed. The system will occasionally fail but it’s our responsibility to identify and fix those problems.

    Please fire Pires, finish the investigation, and let’s all get on with our lives.

  • ducaati

    radar and altitude
    Actually, the radar does NOT “know” the altitude of the aircraft. Something called a “transponder interrogator” electronicall “asks” the aircraft’s transponder its altitude, and the aircraft responds, electronically via information derived from a barmetric (sea level based) altimeter and digitizing equipment. The pilot can turn it off, it can malfunction, the pilot can dial in the wrong barometer setting, lots of variables. I repair this equipment on aircraft for a living.

  • I Love Brazil

    Yes there were multiple incidents that lead to the disaster…ATC Brasilia instructing the Pilots of the Legacy fly at 37.000 feet (voice recorders prove this), ATC Manaus telling the Boeing to fly at 37,000 feet, loss of communication (the Legacy pilots tried to contact ATC 19 times from Brasilia to the crash location) and the same with the ATC (They tried to contact the Legacy 22 times I think). The malfunctioning of BOTH transponders on both aircraft, and now we hear that the Flight plan of the Boeing called for it to fly at 41,000 feet. A new twist. ATC… as has been repeated over and over… is responsible for keeping thos aircraft out of eachothers path. But Brasilia wasn’t talking to Manaus and Manaus wasn’t talking to Brasilia. There was a shift change in Brasilia. The exiting controller told the entering controller that the Legacy was at 36,000 feet because some readout on his screen said so and he trusted it ( I thought I read that today). With the loss of communication with the Legacy, the Boeing should have been moved safely out of the way. I think the structure of how ATC is run in Brazil is at fault along with the communication blind spots over the Amazon. The controllers in Brazil know this too. Who is not at fault here are ATC individuals or the aircrafts pilots.
    But…that being said, Brazil did not run a transparent investigation, until they understood thier spin on the situation wasn’t going to work. They tried to use Anti_Americanism in Brazil to thier advantage. Especially Pires. Pires undarstands that the structure of Brazil’s ATC (that falls under him) is the problem and he was trying to cover his butt because ultimately the buck stops with him and whoever else is responsible for the structure of Brazilian Air Traffic Control. Thats how this is going to pan out.

  • jony

    Is he really this stupid???
    Brazil is doing an excellent job investigating its own accident with full transparency in their due process to wherever it may take, and at the same time keeping the media frenzy somewhat under control. Practical sound investigation such as the air force a few days ago looking for possible blind spots in the airways in an area known to have one of the most sophisticated radar surveillance systems in the world. That in itself, is a good example of the seriousness and determination of the government to reach a final conclusion.
    To Ch. c You have got the whole thing reversed, in the absence of a directive from the ATC the pilots are supposed to follow the altitude based on the international regulations which means that the accident would not had happened because they would had been either at 360 or 380 flying North-Northwest. Can you be this stupid or are you pulling my leg?

  • Norman Kemble

    To ch.c Aviation 101
    Since you wonˢ۪t answer the question I will give some guesses. You are Bob Sherryˢ۪s brother? No, then you are Greg Brinkmanˢ۪s father?? No, then I will keep guessing. Maybe you are Joe Sharkey trying to pass off your culpability in this accident.

    As much as you would babble on and on and on there are some things that I will let everyone know (and to reconfirm that you know nothing about aviation). Every aviation accident does NOT occur because of ONE thing that happens. Rather it is a series of things that happens and the first leads to the second and the second to the third, etc. This is called an error chain. (Yes just like a piece of chain one link to another link. Sort of what your parents probably had on you to keep you under control). To prevent the accident all you need is for one of those links to be broken.

    So to help you figure this out with your feeble brain itˢ۪s like this: There were MANY other things that happened (which the pilots and probably the passengers contributed to) that led to this accident. The cause is that there is NO ONE PERSON responsible, but thatˢ۪s too much for your low esteem lack of self respect to figure out.

    If you knew anything about excel you would know that they are just as culpable. But you probably do know that and that is the reason for your constant rants. Also, the reason that you will not disclose your relationship to excel.

  • ch.c.

    …..very sad that their (IN)justice is politically driven !
    And even 20 years ago, such accusations would have still be wrong. Because the
    International Aviation Laws regulates what to do, and not the local laws !

    Just imagine the mess if every country had their own aviation regulations and laws ! By the way Brazil signed all the International Aviation regulations and are members of such organizations. Therefore why dont they they abide… them ?

    As I said in a previous post, I have no doubt that this will end up to be very costly
    to Brazil ! One way or another !

    Because cheaters and liars….they really are…openly !

  • Canastrão Blonde

    I guess in the age of the internet and the relative smallness of the world, these Brazilian ministers and generals can’t get away with what they are use to getting away with. 20 years ago, the 2 American pilots would be in Jail now to protect Brazil’s national pride. They gave the world a good hard look at the way Brazilian politics operates. It was amazing to watch. and sad.

  • bo

    to ch.c

  • ch.c.

    what a circus……
    ….full of crooks disguised in clowns !
    – It took 1 or 2 days after the crash to have the US pilots to testify.
    – It took 7 weeks to have the ATCs to testify.

    By the way, is a radar not supposed to know the altitude ? Therefore what a strange explanation that the ATC “ADJUSTED” HIS RADAR to 36000 feet height ?????

    Where is the common sense ? It really is stinky, greasy, dirty and smelly !!!

    Curious too that all ATC were under psychiatric treatment, at the same time, and ill all until the same date.
    While the only ones under real stress and in need of psychiatric treatment were the US pilots, being not only involved in the crash but were also the only.
    survivors !!!!!

    Really a bunch of idiots, crooks and liars these Brazilians !

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