Friday, December 22, 2006


Wonderful Waldir Pires, the Brazilian defense minister who has loudly and laughably insisted that the Sept. 29 mid-air disaster was caused by the two American pilots of the Legacy 600 business jet doing stunt maneuvers at 37,000 feet, is looking at a not-so-merry Christmas. The air-traffic chaos in Brazil, caused largely by protests by air controllers warning that they won't accept the blame they deserve for the collision that killed 154 in a commercial 737, has gone from bad to worse. (Wonderful Waldir's defense department runs Brazilian air-traffic control). Now the Air Force has been drafted to carry civilian passengers left stranded in airports.

From the Associated Press today:

"RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called in the Brazilian air force Friday to help transport airline passengers on an emergency basis as long delays and overbooked planes snarled commercial flights over the busy holiday weekend.

Brazil halted ticket sales by the nation's biggest airline, Tam Linhas Aereas SA, until the situation was brought under control, aviation officials said Friday.

The Air Force Command, whose flights began after the president's announcement, said in a statement it was fulfilling a request by Silva to "relieve the difficulties currently faced by users of commercial civil aviation" across Latin America's largest country.

The air force made eight jets -- two Boeing 707s, two Boeing 737s and four Embraer EMB-145s -- available for flights between Brasilia, the nation's capital, and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the country's two largest cities. ...

Brazil's airport woes began after a midair collision between a Gol airlines Boeing 737 and an Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet in late September. The Gol flight crashed in the Amazon jungle, killing 154 people in Brazil's worst air disaster. Authorities are investigating whether controller error had a role in the collision.

Soon after, air traffic controllers began following regulations to the letter in a "work-to-rule" protest to demand better pay and working conditions."


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