Chaos at Brazil’s Airports Leads Lula to Call Emergency Late-Night Meeting

A breakdown in the radios that control Brazilian airspace, which caused misery in airports throughout Brazil, yesterday, December 5, continued to affect passengers in Brazilian airports this morning.

In Rio’s Tom Jobim international airport, people after waiting over six hours still couldn’t get a confirmation for their flights this Wednesday. 

Airlines not only didn’t know what to tell ticket holders they also were overwhelmed by the lines and complaints and were not able to provide food and lodging for all stranded passengers.

After a chaotic day in the main Brazilian airports, Air Force commander, brigadier Luiz Carlos Bueno, at the end of the night, announced that the equipment that had failed at Cindacta 1, the air control center in capital Brasí­lia, was working fine and that flights were back to normal.

According to the Air Force chief this was the first time the communication radios failed so dramatically. The malfunction at Brasí­lia’s Air Defense and Air Traffic Control Integrated Center in motion a chain of trouble with flight delays, cancellations and public discontent throughout the day. At 7:30 pm all takeoffs (around 100 of them) from Congonhas (São Paulo), Confins (Belo Horizonte) and Brasí­lia had been cancelled.

The crisis became so severe that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva held an emergency late-night meeting with Defense Minister Waldir Pires, Air Force commander Luiz Carlos Bueno, chief of staff Dilma Rousseff, and Milton Zuanazzi, the president of ANAC (Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency). It was already 10:15 when the encounter ended.

Pires informed that the president has ordered the purchase of radio equipment similar to that used in Brasí­lia for the São Paulo airport. The reasoning behind it is that this new equipment might be used as backup in case Cindacta 1 once again acts up.

According to him, Lula had asked for assurance that Brazil would never again endure a flight paralyzation like the one that occurred Tuesday. And he concluded: "The flights are being restored at this moment and tomorrow (this Wednesday) the situation will be back to normal."

Bueno told reporters that yesterday’s cancelled flights had been rescheduled for today:  "It is true," he said,  "that there is a very large quantity of accumulated flights here in Brasí­lia, so that you may expect some delay for some specific locations. But everything is restored."

Colonel-aviator Carlos Vuyk de Aquino, Cindacta 1’s commander,  told reporters that the trouble in Brasí­lia was caused by a failure in the connection between the radio frequencies’ active and backup systems. Both operate together amounting to a total of 20 different frequency bands. With the breakdown, communications were reduced to 13 frequencies.

At about 1 pm, yesterday, the whole radio communication system went down. At that time, as a safety measure, Brasí­lia’s air control center  directed all planes flying in their area to immediately land and subsequently prevented planes from taking off from that airport, which is a hub between the north and the south of Brazil.


  • Show Comments (5)

  • Keith Peshak

    Contact President Luiz InÀƒ¡cio Lula da Silva
    Can anybody contact President Luiz InÀƒ¡cio Lula da Silva and translate English for him. I’ve tried the ambassador here in the U.S. without success. The solution to the problem isn’t even expensive.

  • Bob

    I was also stranded and I noted yet again GOL was unprepared for the chaos and situation. It was easy for GOL to blame the controllers for this delays and cancellations, but GOL seems totally unprepared for these crises. They don’t organize the lines well, never seem to have information, run away when the press and cameras show up, don’t organize hotels nor food / water for those in line, etc. With the slow death of Varig, GOL has assumed the role of a pseudo-monopoly in Brazil, and while the the D’Oliveira family, owners of the company, enjoy record profits, their clients suffer unnecessarily, and their employees are undertrained for crises. A real shame.

  • bo

    DeGaulle said brazil wasn’t a serious country.

    Quite a shame that so many people had to die to bring this situation to light, and the brazilian authorities, and many brazilian citizens, jumped quite quickly to make ridiculous statemnent, condemning the americans before an investigation was even done. I hope the american pilots sue the pants off the brazilian ATCS and those that jumped to baseless conclusions so quickly.


  • alltheway

    Thank God, the American pilots are apparently free of doing anything wrong, othrwise the infrastructute failures in the ATC would go ignored, at least now hopefully the current publicity could result in the govt taking steps which can save Brasilian lives in the future if the public demands it. find the problem, fix the problem, keep monitoring it, do the right things so the lost lives were not lost in vain, that is waht a “seious” country does

  • ch.c.

    – Cindacta1 failed for the first time ? Strange !
    – No even 1 Cindacta1 or other similar equipment ALREADY in reserve, with your so many airports and security air towers….in case of emergency ? Strange !

    Can no one see the direct relation with the recent plane tragedy ?

    Brazilians Authorities also confirmed, that there is no blindspots in Brazil, statements
    known to be full of lies….as per the Brazilians ATCS !!!!!!

    Can no one really see that what is happening and revealed NOW is what the Wearing Pampers Minister Pires wanted to absolutely hide at whatever cost : the sad state of your Air Security in many ways ….that put millions and millions of passengers at risk, for years already in only an “APPARENT” Safety !!!!!!

    I have no doubt that far more is going to be discovered and revealed !
    The plane crash tragedy investigations will finally reveal the whole truth.

    And the accusations against the US pilots were only to divert the attention of the sad reality. IT WAS A HUGE COVER UP SCAM FROM YOUR DEFENSE MINISTER to hide the state of your weak and failing air security : employees shortage, some inept employees, policies, budget austerity, equipments, country officially with no blindspots !

    And the ATCs recent strikes are also a divertion of their own errors from 2 or more of their members, in the plane crash !!!


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