Case of American Pilots Involved in 154 Deaths in Brazil Back in Court

American pilots Jan Paladino and Joseph Lepore The Brazilian court is once again dealing with the freak 2006 aviation accident that left 154 people dead after an executive jet piloted by two Americans sideswiped a passenger plane over the Amazon.

In September 2006, a Legacy jet manufactured by the Brazilian aviation company, Embraer, was on its way to its new owners in the United States piloted by two Americans, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino.

Late in the afternoon, on a clear day, the jet glanced off another aircraft and, although damaged, managed to land at a military base in the jungle.

The other plane, a Boeing 737 owned by Gol airlines on a regular flight from Manaus to Brazilian capital Brasilia, was not so lucky: it crashed and everyone aboard died.

Immediately following the disaster, because they were considered key witnesses the American pilots were held in custody in Brazil until December 6, 2006. Then they were released and allowed to return to the US. Since then, the investigation of the accident has moved on and some aspects of the case have gone to trial.

In May, a Brazilian federal judge in the state of Mato Grosso, where the Boeing crashed, sentenced the two American pilots to jail terms that were changed to community services for “negligence in not verifying that their aircraft’s anti-collision equipment (transponder/TCAS) was operating.”

Separately, in June of this year, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil – Anac) fined the American pilots and the company that bought the Legacy jet (the fines were between US$ 2,000 and US$ 4,000). However, relatives of victims were upset with that ruling and have demanded a heavier penalty.

Today, new hearings will take place at Anac in Rio de Janeiro on the responsibility of the American pilots (note: Brazilian air traffic controllers have also been charged with partial responsibility for the tragedy).




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