Tuesday's 'Equipment Malfunction' Fishy To Some Experts
Brazilian air traffic
control has steadily worsened since the September crash of a Gol
airlines 737 according to Reuters. Controllers in the country say
they are overworked and underpayed. In protest, they've organized
work slowdowns nearly halting Brazilian air travel several
times in the past couple of months.
This past Tuesday, the same day two US pilots were given their
passports and allowed to return home, an equipment malfunction
caused the shutdown of three major airports in the country.
Brazil's aviation authority chief Milton Zuanazzi told Reuters,
"There has never been a day like this in Brazilian aviation."
The September crash -- the worst in Brazil's history -- killed
154 when a Gol Airlines 737 went down in the amazon jungle. All
evidence in the so-far incomplete investigation points to a mid-air
collision between the airliner and an Embraer Legacy 600 business
jet operated by ExcelAire and bound for the US.
The US pilots flying the Legacy 600 landed safely with
substantial damage to the jet.
Following initial press reports in Brazil's newspapers the two
US pilots had been flying at the wrong altitude with their
transponder turned off, a judge confiscated their passports. During
the investigation, Brazilian court and government officials
repeatedly threatened criminal action against the pair should it be
found they were at fault in the accident.
In the ensuing months, political squabbling among the many
Brazilian agencies involved the inquiry cast a shadow over the
investigation. Claims by Brazilian police investigators that air
traffic controllers were muzzled and radar evidence withheld that
might serve to exhonerate the two US pilots prompted calls for
This past Tuesday the court
returned the pair's passports allowing them to leave the country.
The supposed equipment failures causing massive delays and shutting
down three airports coming the same day has raised eyebrows among
Brazilian air traffic experts.
Although the government blamed the malfunctions on a technical
glitch, a retired Brazilian Air Force Colonel and recognized
Brazilian aviation expert says it was sabotage. Franco Ferreira
believes controllers feel they are being held up as scapegoats for
the Gol airlines crash.
Ferreira claims, "There is no doubt that this was
The chaos continued into Wednesday with dozens more flight
cancellations and delays. Reuters reports passengers have taken to
wearing red clown noses and blowing whistles as they wait in line