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Brazil Blames Boeing Crash on American Pilot Flying at Wrong Altitude

The Brazilian aviation authorities say that the Brazilian-made Legacy jet that collided with Gol’s Boeing 737-800 last Friday (September 29) causing 155 deaths and Brazil’s worst aviation disaster ever, was flying at the wrong altitude.

While the plane flew from São José dos Campos to Brasí­lia at 37,000 feet it should have lowered its flight height to 36,000 after passing Brazilian capital Brasí­lia and on its route to Manaus. The Legacy, however kept the same altitude, in a collision path with the Boeing.

Joseph Lepore and Jean Paul Palladino, respectively pilot and co-pilot of the Legacy,  which was being taken from its Embraer manufacturer in São José dos Campos to the United States, told police that they had authorization from Brasí­lia’s control tower to fly at 37,000 feet until Manaus where they would have a stop-over before continuing their flight to the US.

The pilots testimony was given on Sunday, in Cuiabá, capital of Mato Grosso state, to police chief Anderson Garcia. That state police is in charge of the inquiry on the plane crash because the accident occurred and the Boeing fell down in an Amazon region with dense vegetation and difficult access in Mato Grosso.

Brazil’s Air Force Commander, Brigadier Luiz Carlos da Silva Bueno, told reporters in an interview, Monday, October 2, that both of the planes involved in the accident had neither asked for nor had been given authorization to change their flight’s altitude. "Someone must have changed the original flight plan", said the brigadier.

According to Brazilian Air Force officers, the Legacy pilots had been alerted by flight controllers at the Cindacta-1 (Integrated Center of Air Defense and Air Traffic Control), headquartered in Brasí­lia that their plane was on the wrong course, but they didn’t answer the control tower’s calls. On the other hand, the Boeing was being controlled by the Cindacta-4 operators located in Manaus.

While the crash may have occurred due to a misunderstanding, authorities are asking themselves why the automatic anticollision system, the TCAS, didn’t work as it should. Both planes were equipped with this device that should detect the presence of another plane nearby. 

The Legacy pilots say that the anticollision equipment was on all the time but it never sounded any alert over the Boeing’s approach.

Adriano Roberto Alves, a Mato Grosso prosecutor, has sent a letter rogatory to the São José dos Campos police for them to confiscate the passports of the American pilots who are back in the city helping with the investigations of the accident.

The Brazilian authorities want to be sure that they won’t leave the country before they have enough answers about the collision between the Legacy jet 600 and the Boeing 737.

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  • Show Comments (4)

  • jairo santamaria

    I really have my doubt that the B737-800, a large transport airplane with its kind of technology could not receive the correct warnings for the traffic in proximity (the Legacy) aunless the other airplane inadvertently “”””turned OFF”””” its transponder somehow. how about if you receive all your warnings and communicate this to the controllers, and they do not authorize you to change to a new safer altitude. ofcourse we will have to wait until the end of the investigations, but in my concern if the controllers know about a potential theat caused for another airplane they should communicate this as many centers as possible to protect all the flights in the nearby area. I think not only the pilots of both airplanes are responsible but the controllers have their part.Civil aviation should establish a kind of procedure for this condition, when a pilot is called and didnÀ‚´t respond.

  • Stan

    Legacy Flight Plan
    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victums of this accident. While I would like to believe the pilots version of the events leading to the accident, its becoming harder each day. Why were two experience pilots flying at the wrong altitude with a mal functioning transponder?? Experience should have lead them to radio the air trafic controllers since they couldn’t be trackedd with the transponder not working. They are saying we didn’t know it wasn’t working! Well if you haven’t heard from the controllers for hours wouldn’t you think something isn’t wrong. They did contact someone and ask for permission to make an emergency landing after the contact with the 737 passenger jet.
    On the other hand they might have decided to “test” the new jet that they were delivering. There maybe internal e-mail within the company they work for back in New York that suggested they conduct some test before accepting the aircraft.
    Americans in general tend not to trust Latin American workman ship or professional qualifications. As an American I’m a witness that the dental and health care I received in Brasil was far superior than what I recieved in the United States.
    How else can you explain something that only a Texas Cowboy would do flying by the seat of their pants. This might have been a company directed test of a Latin built aircraft. I can’t believe that two former U.S. Airline pilots would endanger the lives of other people on purpose.

  • Lori Chitwood

    American Piolits in Brazil
    Well, I hate to speculate but I tend to think yes the Piolits of the Legacy were flying a the wrong altitude and kenw it….and had the transponder off. Why, is anyone’s guess and we may never know. The Boeing’s transponder more than likely alerted the piolits of that Jet and in turn, they alerted Manus control who did not give them permission to change altittude. That was also a mistake and should be a lesson for controllers to listen to piolits and not to always go strictly by the book. American piolits more at fault here it seems. I’m an American. I hope the US doesn’t try to pull any stunt to thwart Brazil’s authority over this matter. The Piolits should have had their passports confiscated, and should remain in Brazil until the inquest is complete. And if they were negligent, need to be held accountable. Under Brazilian law.

  • Mauricio

    Investigations proof that the Legacy pilots did not sent any response to seven attempts of contact, and further: the boeing detected a flighting object nearby, and requested an emergency change on altitude, which was refused. The refusal motive is clear: the tower controling the boeing (different of the LEgacy’s one due to a transition area of space control).

    The black box shows up that the americans are telling lies. Prbably the will be 30 years in jail, and I hope they receive death penalty when arrive USA — if there are proofs of homicide (as the facts are pointing to). But, the USA is not a serious country (Brazil neither), and so, the good people on both sides will loose.

    The idiot — and probably lier (Joe Sharkey) — of New York Times wrote a plenty of lies about the accident. I’m telling about facts.

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