'ATC responsible for Brazilian plane collision'

It is speculated that both towers assigned similar altitudes to both planes, resulting in the collision.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2006 10:20 IST

Miscommunication between air traffic controllers was probably to blame for Brazil's deadliest-ever plane crash last week in which, 155 people died, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported.

The midair collision of a Boeing 737-800 and a smaller, twin-engine private plane occurred onFriday. Both machines flew into an air traffic control region in the state of Para jointly controlled from two separate towers, O Globo reported on Monday, citing a Brazilian air traffic control official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Controllers in the two towers failed to discuss that the planes were entering the same airspace and instead assigned similar flight altitudes to their respective planes, leading to the collision, O Globo reported.

The American pilot of the smaller Embraer Legacy plane managed to make an emergency landing at a military airstrip in Para.

Officials did not comment on the newspaper report and have indicated that a full probe into the mishap would take at least three months, given the difficulty of reaching the remote jungle crash site. The wreckage was not found until Saturday.

Brazilian Air Force (FAB) sources have been cited in the press as saying that the plane plummeted almost vertically in a heavily forested area with up to 70-metre-tall trees. The plane is said to have exploded when it hit the ground, though civilian aviation authorities have not confirmed the reported military description.

Previously, Brazil's worst aviation accident was in June 1982, when a Boeing 727 of the Vasp airline crashed into a mountain in the northeastern state of Ceara, killing all 137 people on board.

Another plane crash left three people dead on Monday in Brazil. The small PA32 machine apparently lost control minutes before its expected landing near the town of Pinheiro in the state of Maranhao.

The bodies of three people on board - two security agents and the pilot - were mangled and burned.

First Published: Oct 03, 2006 10:20 IST