The incident recorded earlier this month, when a Qatari Boeing 777 had to dodge a balloon when landing in São Paulo, took the world by storm and exposed an old Brazilian problem.
The case was exposed firsthand by AEROIN, which received a real-time report from an observer on the ground and another person who was on board the aircraft. As it involved an aircraft from a well-known Arab company, Qatar Airways, which is among the best in the world, the fact drew even more attention.
Media from a number of countries covered the information, including the US, Lebanon, Romania, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and, notably, the UK, where some of the biggest newspapers, such as The Independent and Daily Mail, replicated the information. However, despite such communication, the repercussion is again negative for Brazil.
While the Festas de São João are a beautiful part of Brazilian culture, the release of large unmanned balloons exposes a decades-old habit that, despite being criminalized, has not ceased to be present in everyday life. For aviation, the so-called “balloon risk” is critical, as a collision with such an artifact could lead to serious incidents or accidents.
Over the years, these cases have been reported not infrequently. The re-education of those who commit this crime has proved to be ineffective and, certain of impunity, criminals continue to do the illicit. Among aviation professionals, it is not uncommon to hear that “It will only change when a plane crashes with a politician inside”since skepticism is high.
Exposure, not to mention embarrassment, sometimes works. Brazil has already had its airspace safety level lowered, despite having fewer air accidents than the US, exactly because of the balloon and the complaints of several pilots, mainly foreigners who find this practice unacceptable.
In this way, it is up to the press and the public to continue publicizing their representatives (the politicians), filling out reports such as RELPREV, and seeking strict and exemplary punishment for criminals who put air safety at risk.