Controllers Denounce Radarless Argentina

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While controllers in the U.S. often complain about the decades-old equipment they use, imagine if they had to work without radar. Thatís the situation in Argentina, where the countryís only radar, near Buenos Aires, was hit by lightning on March 1 and hasnít been repaired. The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllersí Associations says controllers are coping with their blipless environment by plotting traffic based on position reports and limiting takeoffs to one every 10 minutes and landings to one every eight minutes. Thereís no indication when the government might get around to fixing the radar, and thatís not the only problem in Argentina. "Air safety is compromised here today," Cesar Salas, president of Argentinaís air traffic controllers association told McClatchy newspapers. "The problem is this is a system that's collapsed. There's no plan, and there's no effort to make the improvements that are necessary." Salas said there have been five incidents of insufficient separation since the radar was zapped, although the government is disputing allegations that a United Airlines flight came too close to an Andes Airlines aircraft near Buenos Aires. Earlier this month, the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations recommended "extreme vigilance" for anyone flying into Argentina. International traffic in the Latin American country jumped 68 percent between 2003 and 2005.