Over four years ago, in September 2006, a freak accident occurred over the Amazon jungle in Brazil. An executive jet glanced off a passenger plane. The Embraer Legacy 600 managed to land even though damaged. The Gol Linhas Aéreas Boeing 737 did not have such luck, but crashed killing all 154 aboard.
Two Americans were piloting the corporate jet and they have been accused by Brazilian authorities of negligence: placing aircraft in danger, flying without using proper equipment and flying in the wrong place.
If found guilty they could be punished with five years in jail and loss of their pilot’s licenses. The pilots have been specifically charged with criminally negligent homicide due to taking off without turning on radar equipment and flying with the transponder turned off.
At this moment, the Legacy-Boeing case is on trial in Brazil before a federal judge, Murilo Mendes. The two American pilots testified via videoconference from New York while sitting in a federal courtroom beside a Brazilian lawyer and an American lawyer.
Brazil and the United States have treaties that make these proceedings possible.
Both pilots have denied the charges. One of them, Jan Paladino, admitted that he had never piloted the Legacy 600 corporate jet before the accident, but denied turning on the transponder only after the collision.
The other pilot, Joseph Lepore, denied flying inside an air corridor the wrong way at the wrong altitude. As for a recording of the pilot’s conversations, where someone says, “It’s off,” the pilots explained that the phrase was a reference to the fact that the equipment did not record any collision, not that it was turned off.
However, the pilots did admit that a few days after the accident it was found that the equipment was not operating correctly.