Sunday, July 15, 2007

Brazil's Unsafe Air Traffic Technology, False Alarms and Aerial Maneuvers

Jungle crash site of Gol 737 (above left). Legacy 600 after landing at Amazon air base (above right)

They keep insisting, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that Brazilian air space over the Amazon is well protected by air traffic control. After all, the Air Force spent $1.7 billion a few years ago on new technology to fix the problem of black radio holes and blind radar spots.

Now consider this excerpt from the current Veja, the weekly news magazine of Brazil. Translation by Richard Pedicini:

"The system that cost $1.7 billion is constantly breaking down, brings risks to aviation, and is not capable of watching the Amazon.

... The system does not operate in minimally acceptable conditions for commercial aviation nor for military ends.

Its radars suffer constant breakdowns. When this happens, the screens show airplanes that don't exist and incorrectly inform the direction and velocity of aircraft which are, in fact in air space.

One Air Force report obtained by VEJA reveals that, at the beginning of the decade, these breakdowns were tolerated, because "few aircraft flew in the region." Since then, aerial traffic has increased and the frequency of breakdowns, too.

One example of the risk through which the people who fly over the Amazon pass is the episode that occurred last March 27, at the headquarters of Cindacta 4, in Manaus.

For twenty seconds, the flight-control console [falsely] indicated that a TAM Airbus A330 had collided in midair with a Gol Boeing 737-800 between the cities of Sinop, in Mato Grosso, and Cachimbo, in Pará. [My note: this is the area over the Amazon where the Gol 737 and the Legacy 600 would collide for real on Sept. 29]

Before indicating the disaster, the system showed more than 100 sudden changes of velocity, direction and altitude, as if the jets were performing acrobatic maneuvers.

All the information was false, including that of the accident. But, when the alarm sounded, the flight controller who monitored the planes went into shock. "The danger is in a controller ignoring a real danger, due to the constant signaling of false alarms,"alerts the document of the Air Force Command. "



Bo said...

After reading the article in Veja(thank god there are a handful of brazilians that have the ability to perceive, comprehend, and admit reality) it truly makes one shake his head in disbelief. Not so much that a system like this has been allowed to exist and endanger the innumerable lives that it does and has on a daily basis, but the very fact that in despite of all the direct evidence and testimony, a legitimate governing body such as the Brazilian congress would continue to deny the facts and refuse to put responsibility where it truly lies. If not for the future safety of air travel in brazil, then for respect and consideration for the 154 people that unnecessarily lost their lives on that Gol flight.

wondering ego said...

Damn... I did only 550 point at the whac-a-mole you suggested Joe... I must be a bad brazilian... that s why I dont fit well on these astonishing maneuvers that some brazilian public men are performing on our skies and endangering the plane where Ms. Justice is flying in.

I am ashamed... but we must go on "le Brésil..." well.... never mind!

Carlos said...

Joe and Bo are crazy? Why you don't say that the Legacy crue turned off then transponder??? There is nothing that could be done with stupids pilots that turn off instruments! Why you don't say that! We have problems, yes. We are poor, yes, but our pilots don't turn off plane's instruments.

Bo said...


You evidently haven't kept track of the facts regarding the situation with the legacy/gol!

A Brazilian seargent testified before the brazilian senate that the day of the accident that they were aware of the radar in the area of the accident to not be working correctly and also that this could very well cause brazilian air traffic control in brasilia to not pick up the signals from transponders! In other words, THE BRAZILIAN ATC SYSTEM WAS NOT WORKING CORRECTLY!

And, EVEN IF the americans accidentally turned off the transponder, which we now know is very possible in this model of Embraer jet as a warning has been issued by the FAA since the power button for the transponder is right beside the footrest(!!!), that it is NOT the responsibility of PILOTS to make certain their transponder is functioning. It IS the responsibility of the AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS to alert pilots when they have detect a transponder that is not signaling! And the ATC's in Brasilia were aware that the transponder was not signaling for 50 minutes PRIOR to the accident taking place!!!

You people just need to give this up! Air traffic in brazil is FUCKED UP!! There is no one else to blame except the brazilian ATC system itself and/or the brazilian air traffic controllers!!

Mason said...

You're right Carlos. You just have stupid ATCers that don't tell aircraft when their transponder is disabled.

Oh. They also direct planes to fly into one another.