Pleas for Brazil to Drop Criminal Investigation
Brazil’s air traffic control problem did not begin in July when a TAM Linhas Aereas SA Airbus crashed into a warehouse in Sao Paulo, killing 199 people. There was another crash the year before, a crash which led to a criminal investigation.
The criminal investigation relates to this event: the mid-air collision between a GOL Boeing 737-800 and an Embraer Legacy executive jet last year The Boeing crashed into the Amazon jungle, killing all 154 people onboard. The business jet landed safely.
The International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations claims that “The bottom line is they’ve got the cart in front of the horse on this. If they’re serious about improving air safety in Brazil, they’ve got to wait for the (technical) report and swiftly apply any recommendations made by it.”
IFALPA is asking the Brazilian government to suspend the legislative inquiry and the Justice Ministry to adjourn criminal proceedings.”
Joseph Lepore of Bay Shore, New York, and Jan Paladino of Westhampton Beach, New York are the Legacy’s two American pilots. Additionally four Brazilian controllers face charges in the criminal case in connection with the accident.
The probe by Brazil’s air accident investigation body has yet to publish its findings.
The pilots’ association claims that “A Federal Police investigation running in parallel with the independent accident investigation … risks obscuring the benefits of a proper investigation.” The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers also criticizes the police probe.
U.S. and Brazilian officials say the Legacy’s transponder and its collision-avoidance system were not functioning at the time of the crash, and that this went unnoticed by its American pilots. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warns that pilots flying Embraer Legacy executive jets can accidentally switch off the transponder when placing their feet on a footrest under the instrument panel. The pilot’s left shoe can touch the switch controlling both instruments and accidentally switch them into “standby” mode.