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Head Of Brazil's Aviation Authority Resigns

Latest To Lose Job Following TAM Accident

The head of Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency has resigned, the latest to leave his job in the aftermath of a fatal July airline accident in Sao Paulo.

Milton Zuanazzi was not due to leave his post until 2011, according to Thomson Financial... but he instead resigned Wednesday, under fire from Brazil's Defense Minister for the country's months-long aviation and air traffic controllers crisis.

Zuanazzi presided over the civilian agency through Brazil's two deadliest plane crashes -- a September 2006 midair involving a Gol Airlines 737 and a private business jet that claimed 154 lives, and the July 17 loss of a TAM Airlines A320 in a runway overrun at Congonhas. As ANN reported, 199 people were killed when that jet landed fast on a rain-slicked runway, and impacted a building.

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim has openly criticized Zuanazzi's handling of both crises, as well as striking air traffic controllers and technical problems plaguing the nation's radar systems.

For his part, Zuanazzi said the final straw was a proposal from Jobim to increase the distance between seats on Brazilian airliners -- a move Jobim says would increase safety, but Zuanazzi says would lead to higher air fares, shutting out the nation's poorer residents.

"They don't want poor people to fly," Zuanazzi told a news conference, reports The Associated Press.

Brazil's aviation industry is managed by a five-member board, appointed by the president. The country's military oversees Brazil's air traffic control system.

FMI: www.anac.gov.br/

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