Brazilian Air Traffic Controllers Will Work for Food

By Robert Mark on April 6th, 2007

I received quite a few private pieces of mail about my post on the Brazilian air traffic controller issue last week, so I thought I’d share something I learned after speaking with Marc Baumgartner, president of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers (IFATCA) in Switzerland this morning.

The air traffic control crisis was so bad last week in Brazil, that while the original purpose of the work stoppage was, of course to gather attention for the plight of the controllers and their differences with the military run ATC system, the chaos was serious enough that controllers refused any food during the first 24 hours of the strike.

Since last week, the ATC situation has flip flopped from one of a strike supported by Brazilian President Lula, along with the need to transform air traffic operations from military to civilian control, to one in which the president now no longer supports the strikers and intends to bring sever disciplinary action against them if possible.

The Brazilian government is planning to now use a number of air defense controllers to help out with ATC duties. Why they never thought of this resource before is anyone’s guess. Of course it might have something to do with the fact that ADC controllers are used to running intercepts on airplanes, not keeping them apart.

It seems as if Brazilian ATC has degenerated to the point where the same sort of head-on-a-swivel tactics we use to fly in Africa are probably needed there as well.

Whether the ATC system in Brazil becomes a civilian entity or remains under the control of the military is anyone’s guess right now, so watch your self if you’re flying to South America. It is going to take a very long time to separate the people and the politics, much less the airplanes.

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