Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SICK CALL (Cont'd)

As noted here yesterday, 10 Brazilian air traffic controllers who were scheduled to testify this week in a seemingly interminable secret investigation being conducted by military and police authorities into the Sept. 29 mid-air collision over the Amazon that killed 154 people have all essentially called in sick.

Today, the Associated Press adds some more detail. The 10 air traffic controllers say they are all under psychiatric treatment until Nov. 13, according to the Brazilian Air Force. (Please don't ask me to speculate on how anyone can set a specific date for an apparent group cure.)

Originally it was reported that the 10 controllers were based in Brasilia, the very odd capital of Brazil. Now it is reported that some were from Brasilia and others from Manaus, the Amazon river city. Both planes, a Boeing 787 and a Legacy 600 corporate jet, collided at 37,000 feet going in opposite directions on the route between those two cities. The Legacy pilots have insisted they lost contact with air traffic control after receiving instructions to mantain flying at 37,000 feet.

The group illness has caused some new problems for Brazil's air traffic control, which Brazil steadfastly has insisted (despite clear evidence to the contrary) played no role in the collision. According to the Associated Press the group absence caused delays today of up to seven hours in flights from Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia.

Meanwhile, while the Brazilian air traffic controllers recover, the two American pilots remain detained in Brazil.

Oh, I forgot again. The Brazilian authorities insist the pilots are not being detained. They're just not free to go.

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