Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Aviation chief fired amid air travel chaos

July 26, 2007


— Brazil's president fired his defense minister Wednesday in response to a fatal jetliner crash that turned months of anger over breakdowns in the military-run national air system into a full-blown political crisis.

Defense Minister Waldir Pires was under withering criticism for not fixing the system even before the TAM Linhas Aereas SA jet crashed last week at Sao Paulo's main Congonhas airport, killing 199 people.

His replacement, former Supreme Court President Nelson Jobim, now must make good on President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's promise of a thorough investigation, new safety measures and a third airport to serve Sao Paulo, a city of 18 million.

"It's no secret to any Brazilian that we have an aviation crisis," Silva said at Jobim's swearing-in, vowing to do whatever it took to resolve the situation.

He acknowledged feeling the same anxiety about flying that many other Brazilians do.

"Every time the airplane door closes, I deliver myself to God," the president said.


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