Argentina: “War of the Radars”

I never did get a chance to see this documentary on corruption allegations against military management of civil aviation in Argentina. Our local video rental joints are big on Bruce Willis movies, badly dubbed, but skimpy on regional cinema.
I never did get a chance to see this documentary on corruption allegations against military management of civil aviation in Argentina. Our local video rental joints (which generally suck) are big on Bruce Willis movies, very, very badly dubbed, but skimpy on regional and domestic cinema.

Los pilotos argentinos denuncian que dos aviones comerciales estuvieron a punto de chocar en pleno vuelo (El País/EFE): “Argentine pilots say that two aircraft nearly collided in mid-air.”

A follow-up to Argentina: Military Removed From Civilian Air Traffic Control.

Brazil’s Congress is about to commence a parliamentary inquiry into similar problems with its own air traffic control system, which unlike Argentina’s is still run by the military.

Brazilian news organizations never print a word about the parallel crisis — although a crusty letter to the editor in the Estadão pointed this out brilliantly recently with respect to the (improving) mess at São Paulo’s Congonhas airport.

This, by the way, is known as the “Planet Brazil” syndrome. Like us gringos, Brazilians are generally not very aware of the world outside their borders.

La guerra de los radares entre pilotos, controladores y el Ejecutivo de Kirchner ha entrado en su punto álgido. La Asociación de Pilotos de Líneas Aéreas (APLA) de Argentina ha denunciado que dos aviones estuvieron ayer a punto de colisionar en pleno vuelo. El hecho fue confirmado por la Asociación de Controladores de Vuelo, cuyo titular, César Salas, relató que los aviones estuvieron a punto de chocar cuando volaban “en el límite” entre las provincias de Buenos Aires y Córdoba (centro del país). Sin embargo, el Gobierno aseguró que la aviación comercial opera en el país en condiciones “adecuadas” de seguridad y negó el incidente, al igual que el Ejército.

The radar wars among pilots, air traffic controllers and the Kirchner government has reached a crucial point. The Airline Pilots Association of Argentina has charged that two aircraft nearly collided in mid-air yesterday. The event was confirmed by the Air Traffic Controllers Association, whose director, César Salas, said that the planes nearly collided as they flew “at the limit” between Buenos Aires and the central province of Córdoba. However, the government said that commercial aviation in the country is operating under “adequate” safety conditions denied the incident, as did the Army.

El impacto se evitó porque una de las aeronaves involucradas activó “un equipo que los aviones tienen a bordo para evitar colisiones”, aseguró el secretario de APLA, Pablo Biró. Según esta versión, el suceso ocurrido involucró a un avión de la compañía estadounidense United Airlines y uno de la aerolínea de vuelos locales Andes.

The collision was avoided because one of the aircraft involved activated “equipment that airliners have on board to avoid collisions,” said APLA secretay Pablo Biró. In this version, the incident involved a United Airlines aircraft and a regional jetliner from Andes Airlines.

I read that the FAA recently found that the Legacy private jet involved in the Gol crash in Brazil had a non-functioning anticollision system.

De confirmarse la denuncia de pilotos y controladores, se trataría del segundo incidente de estas características que se registra en las últimas semanas, ya que el pasado 22 de abril un avión comercial de Aerolíneas Argentinas estuvo cerca de colisionar en el aire con una nave privada que presuntamente no iba a la altura correcta.

If the accusation by pilots and controllers is confirmed, this would be the second incident of this kind in recent weeks, since on April 22 an Aerolíneas Argentinas aircraft nearly collided in mid-air with a private aircraft that was allegedly not flying at the correct altitude.

El radar dañado

Damaged radar

Según los controladores, el avión de Andes, un MD 80, tuvo que bajar 2.000 pies al estar en la misma línea de 35.000 pies que un avión de United, un Boeing 777, a una distancia de unos 20 kilómetros. Además, el sector denuncia la existencia de estos fallos debido a la deficiente cobertura del radar que controla las operaciones aéreas de los dos aeropuertos más importantes de Argentina, que fue dañado por un rayo durante una tormenta que se registró el 1 de marzo pasado.

According to controllers, the Andes airliner, an MD 80, had to descend 2,000 feet when it found itself at the same altitude — 35,000 feet — as the United Boeing 777, at a distance of some 20 km. Further, the controllers charge that these failures occurred due to deficiencies in radar coverage at the two most important airports in Argentina, which was damaged by lightning during a storm on March 1.

The same thing reportedly happened at Cumbica — or was it Congonhas? — in São Paulo, to the ILS system.

The system was repaired, but the Air Force aircraft needed to test and certify the system was, for some reason — and what was that reason? We do not know yet — not available, and so the system remained offline, causing a rash of flight delays one foggy day and mumblings about Air Force “sabotage.”

Pocas horas antes del hecho, la ministra de Defensa, Nilda Garré, afirmó que “no hay que entrar en una prédica apocalíptica” y dijo que según los principales organismos internacionales de control las condiciones de seguridad para la aviación comercial en el país “son adecuadas”. Garré también anunció que es “inminente la llegada de un radar secundario en condición de préstamo por parte de España”, y ratificó que antes de fin de año se incorporarán otros cuatro radares a los cinco existentes. El presidente argentino, Néstor Kirchner, ordenó la compra de quince radares tras reconocer que “la estructura aérea está quebrada” y ordenó desvincular a la Fuerza Aérea del control de la aviación civil.

A few hours before the incident, the Minister of Defense, Nilda Garré, said that “there is no reason to get into prophecies of doom,” adding that according to the principal international air traffic control bodies, flight safety conditions in Argentina were “adequate.” Garré also announced that “the arrival of a secondar radar system on loan from Spain is imminent,” and assure that by the end of the year another four radar systems would be added to the five existing systems. Argentine president Kirchner ordered the purchase of 15 radars after acknowledging that “the air traffic system is broken” and ordered that the Air Force be removed from control of civilian air traffic.

La semana pasada la Federación Internacional de Asociaciones de Pilotos de Líneas Aéreas (IFALPA) recomendó a los comandantes de aeronaves “extremar las medidas de vigilancia y precaución” en el país suramericano.

Last week the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA) recommend that aircraft commanders “redouble their vigilance and precautionary measures” in the South American nation.

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