Copa America Brazil 2019, carried out June 10-July 8, brought together players from 12 countries — 10 from South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and two guest countries: Japan and Qatar. During the event, Brazilian airports recorded an average of 3,300 flights per day, an 8 percent increase in air operations compared to the same period in 2018. The Airspace Navigation Management Center (CGNA, in Portuguese), a unit under the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA, in Portuguese) of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) provided this data.
FAB service members under DECEA control all civilian and military aircraft taking off from Brazil or flying over its national airspace. Brazil’s airspace covers 8.4 million square miles, 3.2 million square miles of which cover the national territory, while the rest corresponds to the maritime area defined under international agreements.
For Copa America, DECEA created a special structure to oversee flights at the eight airports in the five host cities (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, and Porto Alegre). “We set up a master control room in Rio de Janeiro to be the coordination center, from which many professionals — representing important government agencies from the country — combined efforts to ensure the orderly and safe air traffic flow across the skies of host cities during the event,” said FAB Colonel Sidnei Nascimento de Souza, head of CGNA and control room coordinator.
Among the professionals working together in the control room were CGNA service members, representatives of the Civil Aviation Secretary, National Civil Aviation Agency, Local Organizing Committee, Federal Police, Internal Revenue Service, International Farming Monitoring System, as well as employees from the Brazilian airport infrastructure company Infraero. “Agency integration improved decision-making and request for information and flights, ensuring efficiency and flow of air operations,” said Col. Sidnei.
The Integrated Command and Control Software for Air Operations and the Total Air Traffic Information Control Flow allowed for airflow management and monitoring processes. Information on the status of airports in host cities was broadcast live, displayed on screens installed in the control room, along with radar images showing flight information and location of aircraft in the airspace of these regions.
Federal agency representatives managed the control room, based on their areas of expertise. Each update generated a spreadsheet with the information required for effective air operations.
The master control room model has been effectively used for other events in Brazil, such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. “All information about arrival, transportation, and departure of leaders and delegations was shared,” said Col. Sidnei. “We successfully completed the Brazilian Air Force mission of maintaining flow, security, and efficiency of airspace use.”