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Brazilian Air Force Dismisses Air Traffic Controllers for Mutiny During 'Air Chaos' in Brazil

09/30/2016 - 11h01

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WÁLTER NUNES
FABRÍCIO LOBEL
FROM SÃO PAULO

The Brazilian Air Force dismissed seven air traffic controllers for their participation in a protest held in 2007, during the so-called "air chaos" – at the time, the controllers promoted a work-to-rule action which led to delayed and cancelled flights as well as long lines in Brazilian airports.

The air traffic controllers of Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, had already been sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 for refusing to work on March 30, 2007 - they had stopped working to draw attention to flaws in the air system as well as the long working hours.

The sentence was changed to open conditions, and their dismissal from the Air Force was, at the time, only an additional point to the main sentence.

The Brazilian Air Force classified the act as mutiny and the accusation was accepted by the Military Court and the country's Supreme Court.

Gustavo Bitencourt, the lawyer of Dinarte Bichels - one of the air traffic controllers - says that during the demonstration, the federal government had promised that the controllers would not suffer penalties.

Bitencourt believes that the promise was not kept. "There was no violence, no insubordination. What we saw was a demonstration to improve the air system," he says.

The Air Force says the dismissal of the air traffic controllers does have grounds, as they were sentenced for mutiny, a military crime.

On Thursday, September 29, the accident with Gol's Boeing jet plane that killed 154 people completed ten years - since the accident, the air traffic controllers have been investigated.

As a reply, part of the country's controllers (most of them military troops) began to denounce that the softwares and devices they used were out of date. Another complaint was that the working hours were too long and incompatible with the job's responsibilities.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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