Airlines urge caution in Brazil

/ Source: Reuters

Two European airlines have adopted special precautions for flying in Brazil, a leading Brazilian newspaper reported Sunday, a day after the country’s president pledged to resolve a nationwide air traffic crisis.

The airlines will tell pilots they doubted the safety of Brazilian air space and instruct them to fly at the edges of air traffic lanes and take other defensive measures, Christoph Gilgen of the Federation of International Air Traffic Controllers Associations (Ifatca), told Folha de S. Paulo.
The two airlines were not identified.

Ifatca seriously discussed rating Brazil’s air space ”dangerous” -- a label it uses for some African nations - but opted instead for “under suspicion,” the newspaper said.

Brazil’s air traffic has been mired in chaos since the worst plane crash in the country’s history two months ago. On Sept. 29, two aircraft clipped wings over the Amazon, causing one, a passenger jet, to spin out of control and crash into the jungle, killing all 154 people on board.

The other, a smaller executive jet, made an emergency landing at a nearby military base.
Preliminary results of an investigation showed both aircraft had been cleared to fly at 37,000 feet and there may have been gaps in radar coverage.

Brazilian air traffic controllers, angry at being blamed for the crash, have staged work slow-downs to protest long hours and poor pay, causing air traffic to snarl, airports to close and airlines to cancel hundreds of flights.

Ifatca could not be reached on Sunday for comment on the report.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged to fix the air traffic problems as he left a regional conference in Bolivia Saturday.

“It makes no sense for Brazil to go on suffering problems with its airports,” he told TV reporters. “Maybe people have to suffer because of rains or because a (control) tower collapses, but they won’t suffer because of equipment failures anymore.”