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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Brazil's defence minister fired
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (July 2007)
There has been pressure on President Lula to act after the crash
Brazil's president has sacked his defence minister, whose ministry oversees air traffic control, following the country's deadliest air disaster.

Even before the crash, Waldir Pires had faced criticism after nearly a year of periodic travel chaos.

Last week a TAM Airlines jet slammed into a building at Congonhas airport, killing nearly 200 people.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has promised to take all measures needed to prevent further air disasters.

Mr Pires will be replaced by former Supreme Court President, Nelson Jobim, a presidential spokesman said.

Mr Pires's handling of the aviation crisis has been criticised as inefficient.

Air traffic chaos

Since the Tam Airlines crash on 17 July, all flights at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport, the country's busiest hub, have been diverted to a secondary runway and flights are suspended when there is rainy weather.

Severe delays were still being reported at several Brazilian airports after more than half of all scheduled flights via Congonhas were cancelled on Tuesday.

To try and ease congestion, the government temporarily halted airline ticket sales from the airport.

There has been intense speculation but no confirmation on the cause of the Tam Airlines crash.

Tam Airlines has said that one of the two thrust reversers on the Airbus 320 - which help jets slow down on landing - had been deactivated on the plane during maintenance checks.

But the company insisted that the deactivation was in accordance with proper procedures.

The crash occurred in wet conditions on a recently resurfaced runway that has been criticised as being too short.

Video footage appeared to show the plane travelling along one section of the runway at higher than normal speed, taking only three seconds to cover the same distance the previous plane had done in 11.

Most of the passengers and crew on board the flight were Brazilian.




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