Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Waldir We Hardly Knew Ye



Waldir Pires, the Brazilian defense minister who has been in charge of the country's aviation system, was fired today as air-traffic chaos worsened after the most recent disaster last week.

Pires, who is in his 80s, has been mocked in this space as "Wonderful Waldir" since last October, when he steadfastly refused to assign any blame to Brazilian air-traffic control or Brazilian aviation for the Sept. 29 mid-air collision between a commercial 737 and a business jet that killed 154 over the Amazon.

For far longer than any reasonable person should have done -- and especially a person in charge of an aviation system that was manifestly unsafe -- Pires pursued a policy of criminalizing and politicizing the Sept. 29 accident.

As he did that, he failed to address or even acknowledge the fact that the accident was caused by technical faults in Brazil's air traffic system and by air traffic controllers who assigned both planes to a collision course at 37,000 feet in an area over the Amazon where radio and radar dead zones are known to exist. Wonderful Waldir, of course, denied they exist.

Pires was fired by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula ("Lucky Lula") de Silva -- I call him "Lucky" because the Sept. 29 accident and the resulting orchestrated anti-American furor gave him a toe-hold in a presidential run-off election that he went on to win. Lucky Lula allowed this scandal to continue unchecked while his nation's aviation system became exposed as a disgrace around the world.

Firing a clueless old man won't fix the problem, and it's clear that Lucky Lula is stalling for time while Brazilians' fury over a collapsed air-traffic system mounts.

And two American pilots remain falsely criminally accused in an accident that never, ever should have been criminalized to begin with.

Wonderful Waldir did have his moment, incidentally. As a presidential aide, he publicly took a courageous stand in 1964 against the military coup that led to a 22-year military dictatorship in Brazil. That coup, supported by the U.S. government, was perhaps the seed of his anti-Americanism.

But that was 1964 and that was a very long time ago. Wonderful Waldir was malfeasant in railroading two American pilots. He was a fool in not summoning the simple courage to admit what went wrong and talk about how to fix it.

And as the man in charge when Brazil's aviation system collapsed, he did nothing to alleviate it. All he did was look for people to blame -- without looking in the mirror or at his patron in the presidential palace.

So give Wonderful Waldir his gold watch.

And tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass on his way out.

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4 comments:

Carlos said...

You, sir, insist that "the accident was caused by technical faults in Brazil's air traffic system and by air traffic controllers who assigned both planes to a collision course at 37,000 feet in an area over the Amazon where radio and radar dead zones are known to exist". You are deadly wrong!!! The accident was caused by the incompetence of Legacy pilots that turned off the transponder, and you insist to defend. They are delinquent, and so must be treated. And you should know, as aviation expert, that TAM accident could happened in any airport of the word. It was a mechanical failure.

Cassandra_Moderna said...

Getting rid of Waldir and putting someone else in his place is pretty much "six of this and a half dozen of the other" -- it won't make any difference. The real problem is that there is absolutely no transparency in governmental transactions (not at the federal level, nor the state or the local levels). I am still amazed that Brazilian prosecutors have the perseverance to continue to try to gather evidence and prosecute white-collar criminals, because they never go to jail. In 40 years, no congressman or senator has gone to jail, in spite of being convicted. They literally do have total impunity. Infraero is in bed with the airline executives and they are all in bed with the military. The amount of public funds that are syphoned off by the higher-ups is staggering. Naturally, none of these blood suckers want their extremely lucrative situation to change. They are already floating the suggestion that prices should increase to pay for their mistakes and embezzlements. Just because the guy coming in to take Waldir's place is an ex-chief justice of the supreme court does not in any way, shape, or form indicate that he is to be trusted to do the right thing. To the contrary, that would be the same supreme court which has not sent a congressman or senator to jail in the last 40 years (the supreme court is where all of their cases end up). If you want to start dancing in the street because Waldir is gone, best hold the music for a while, like... indefinitely.

paulo f said...

Just amazing what carlos says, in the first post. How can someone be so blind to crystal clear evidence, that Brazilian air traffic controllers were the prime responsible for the Gol accident? There's no reason on earth for a pilot to intentionally switch his ATC transponder off. More: the Legacy flew over Brasilia with the transponder in normal condition, and then for seven minutes more. After that, the transponder signal was lost, for some reason. The Legacy pilots could not detect that, air traffic controllers could and should do it. On the TAM accident: how do you know it was caused by a mechanical failure? There's absolutely no evidence pointing in that direction, so far. You must be following the crazy ideas of those presidential palace aides, relieved by the fact that one thrust reverser was locked out, a normal operational condition. Shame on you, fellow conterraneo...

PATRICIA M. said...

Carlos is so full of rage he cannot reason about the last accident. It's proven that an accident in the Phillipines, with the same Airbus plane model, did NOT kill people. Why? BECAUSE THE RUNWAY WAS LARGE AND LONG ENOUGH FOR THE PLANE TO STOP.

So Carlos, it was NOT JUST A MECHANICAL FAILURE like you put it. You must be a huge fan of Lula, that's why you insist on this BS. Read more. Read more international news also. Don't trust just brazilian reporters, who have sold their services to the government. Wake up, man.