The use of Airpower on Humanitarian Operations: a case study in Brazil


  • Rodrigo Antônio Silveira Santos University of the Air Force – UNIFA



Airpower, Humanitarian Operations, Crisis Management


Goal: The main purpose of this research is to present the benefits reached with the use of airpower resources during humanitarian operations, in order to verify how the main airpower’s characteristics influenced the response stage of a natural disaster in Brazil.

Design / Methodology / Approach: A qualitative case study was conducted to evaluate benefits reached with the use of airpower during humanitarian operations. Primary and secondary data were gathered from operational reports provided by the Brazilian Air Force, from media coverage about the flood and waterlogging events happened in November 2008, in Itajai Valley, Santa Catarina State, Brazil. Interviews with three informants involved in crisis response were also conducted. Data analysis processes were conducted to search codes about airpower engagement during humanitarian operations. Data coding followed an inductive approach and the codes emerged from data.

Results: The research concludes that the use of airpower can leverage crisis response capabilities during humanitarian operations, as airpower’s characteristics of speed, mobility, flexibility, penetration, range, and readiness meet the needs of humanitarian operations to respond to a natural disaster. The case study demonstrates an increase of operational capabilities after airpower engagement.

Limitations of the investigation: Only one crisis situation was studied, because the access to operational data provided by the Brazilian Air Force is restricted. Besides, it was not possible to analyze values and budgetary costs derived from airpower engagement.

Practical implications: The results of this research demonstrate that it is highly important to involve airpower during humanitarian operations, as it can leverage crisis response capabilities. In this way, humanitarian organizations can stablish new forms of relationship to national and local governments in order to quickly engage airpower resources on the response phase of natural disasters.

Originality/Value: This research presents an original contribution to the field of humanitarian operations as it presents real data in terms of the engagement of airpower resources during humanitarian operations.


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How to Cite

Santos, R. A. S. (2019). The use of Airpower on Humanitarian Operations: a case study in Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Operations & Production Management, 16(3), 490–500.