Brazil Police Give Green Light: American Pilots Can Go Back Home

Even if considered suspect by the Brazilian justice Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, the two American pilots detained in Brazil for two months, will be allowed to go back home in the next few days.

They have been in virtual house arrest since the collision between the Legacy executive jet they were flying and the Boeing 737, which ended up causing Brazil's worst air accident ever.

Their trip back home might happen as early as next week, after Lepore and Paladino are once again heard by Federal Police chief Renato Sayão, who is in charge of the criminal investigation around the accident that killed 154 people in the Amazon jungle.

By order of Sayão, a federal judge in the state of Mato Grosso, the Americans had their passport confiscated and had been in virtual prison in the Marriott Hotel in Copacabana beach, in the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. 

The federal police chief told reporters today that he is going to hear the testimony of both pilots next week and that after that the pilots will be free to fly home.

He also said that the Americans can go back to the United States even if they are indicted since Brazil and the US have agreements of juridical cooperation. Sayão also commented that it helped the fact that the investigations showed that they haven't acted with malice or criminal intent.

One hundred pages of transcripts from the Legacy's black boxes are being translated into Portuguese. They include not only the conversations between the pilots and the control tower, but also what the two pilots talked between themselves. Sayão says that this information will be vital to decide the degree of culpability of the American pilots. 

"The technical investigations demonstrate that the Legacy's flight was in a straight line, without sudden maneuvers or risky tests, as it was conjectured at the beginning," said Sayão, adding that the US Justice would be notified about the unfolding of the whole process and that the pilots would be questioned in the United States, in the future, when necessary.

Sayão now is turning his attention to the Brazilian controllers. The Federal Police is now convinced that flight controllers made serious mistakes in São José dos Campos, from where the Legacy left, as well as in Brasí­lia, which should have told the executive jet to descend to an altitude of 36,000 feet, but never did it.


0 #18 More trouble Brewing!Stephen 2006-11-29 13:17
Now the Assoc of families of the Gol victims want to have all the data made available to them from the Legacy black box and are saying that the pending release of the pilots is for economic reasons.Their lawyers should explain that there is a international Bi - laterial agreement and it is almost impossible to keep then in Brazil much longer, unless of course Brazil wants to become a rogue nation and not abide by the agreements. I think the PF have had the good judgement to interview them and then send them home. SOON !!
0 #17 Hoping for the bestDiane Bradley 2006-11-29 10:36
Like many of you here, I have adopted a 'wait and see' attitude about their release and, as always, prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. It is my sincere hope that they be allowed to return to the USA as soon as possible to return to some semblance of a 'normal' life. I can't help but wonder, though, if they and their families will be provided with the professional support and help they will need for probably quite some time afterward. They have essentially been held, involuntarily; in a nation seething with mass hatred toward them, born out of the depths of grief, in what I would imagine would be vaguely similar to a POW situation. I think it goes without saying that immediate counseling and PTSD testing will be necessary, as well as any needed long term aftercare. Any of you who know, firsthand, what PTSD can do to your mind will agree with me, I'm sure. Also, I can't imagine that their wives and children wouldn't need long term assistance as well. Additionally, what if this experience has so traumatized these guys that they can't or won't fly again? What about re-education in another field if need be? I'm assuming that this is something that excelaire will be providing for them, perhaps as part of a workers comp type of thing?

Was just curious about that, as I had a friend who had an incident occur at altitude and was offered absolutely NOTHING afterward by his employer as far as debriefing or counseling afterward. The entire crew was not only tremendously shaken by the incident, but deeply traumatized as well. I'm sure the pax of the Legacy can identify quite strongly with that. Add on the added stress and trauma of a two month detainment and, well... you see my point.

It is my hope that they have a safe and speedy return... and then some immediate, top notch help afterwards for as long as is needed.
0 #16 Simpleton 2006-11-29 08:34
Ralph M. - The charts you get for this region will likely show very little for VOR / DME coverage. In most of Brazil the radio nav stations with onboard equipment widely accepted around the world are good for about 130 NM vs 160 NM elsewhere. In general you won't get more than about 200 NM good service out of them at any altitude. From the location info posted in other threads you might guess that the main ATC centers and commerical and military airports where the ground based installations are typically located are much greater distances apart than this. The air routes are published against a theoretical track on the ground. The commercial boys and the modern civil aircraft all have onboard systems these tracks can be programmed into and GPS is used to follow them. It's much more likely for the two aircraft to both be pecisely on the center of this track using the onboard systems than it would be using the nav radios.

Doubt the Legacy cockpit has a substandard design. If the TCAS/ACAS systems were turned off or failed, this would be very prominently advised in AMBER in the displays or by an idiot light or both. It's conceivable that a radar altimeter (which doesn't usually work above 2500 feet or 5000 feet except for some military systems) might have malfunctioned in some way and thus defeated the visual and audible cautions and warnings one or both of the two aircraft should have received which would have guided one or both to avoiding the collision. Focus is on the transponders (I hope the GOL one can be recovered as well) as a problem with the status of that receiver-transmitter would represent a single point problem that affected both aircrafts abilities to see each other via the TCAS / ACAS as well as preventing the ATC from monitoring altitiudes other than by what can be accomplished via the primary radars. SIVAM most likely does estimations / projects during such times as the altitude data collected from the transponders is missing / happens to drop out. The ATC should know whether the presentaions they get are based on data or based on computer estimations / projections. It should not take 7 minutes for them to have big flashing flags pop up if an in range transponder source drops out.
0 #15 Rick 2006-11-29 08:27
Brazil has user fees. Talk, park, overnight, taxi, whatever....the operator is charged. So it is not uncommon for off-airways traffic at the lower levels to squalk 2000 (vfr, same as 1200 in the states) and not key the mike, or even turn off the xponder. But part 135 guys wouldn´t do that since they don´t pay the bills. Part 121 guys never.

0 #14 Stephen 2006-11-29 07:52
Does anyone remember when Ronny Regan fired 10,000 ATC controlers? On the same day! Well, privatize the ATC here and then dump all the misfits and kiddys. Give them 2 years in a mental hospital to get better.What a pile of S**t
0 #13 Stephen 2006-11-29 07:48
Ok Rob, agreed. alltheway, one of the american pilots is on furlough from AA so it not like he is a bush pilot. until they are are home plate and safe lets wait it out.cheers
footnote, Gol and Tam are offering big discounts today until the end of the year to intice Brazilans to keep flying rather than demanding the goverment fix the ATC. Does it matter if you get wacked up there what you paid for your seat?
0 #12 Ray of hopeRobert Mark 2006-11-29 07:23
I agree with Ralph. We have a ray of hope to get these two guys out. Let' slow down on the speculation until they get home. The issues will not have changed.

0 #11 alltheway 2006-11-29 06:54
The "benefit" is to fly at any altitude or direction they choose, to practive manuvers, to "play" with the plane, Over the Amazon, because it is so large it is easy to get a feeling that no one is there but you. If Brasil had weak tracking it is just an added way to ensure no one would be aware of what they were doing, IF they were doing anything which apparently they were not
0 #10 Stephen 2006-11-29 04:26
Can someone help me to understand why anyone would think that the pilots would even think to turn off their transpondor?
What would be the benefit to do that? This thought process by the Brazilians is not comprehesonable! And I live in Brazil and have seen it all but this takes the cake folks. Isn't this device like driving your car at night on a dark road and for some lunatic reason you turn your lights off? Where is the logic. Also can anyone comment on the possiblity that it could have been turned off by mistake? Is there not an alarm that would tell them it is off...not ON ?
0 #9 Mad Max 2006-11-29 03:36
The investigation began as a criminal proceeding. It should NEVER have been assumed that the accident was due to criminal behavior by either aircraft or the controllers. It was an accident, and the cause needed to be discovered. If the the cause showed criminal initent, then fine - proceed wth criminal charges.

By starting off with the intent to lock someone up - the American pilots, and the controlers, became part of a bigger drama. A totally counter-productive drama. No wonder the controllers were ill.

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