NYT Reporter Calls Brazilian Air Control Terrible

Joe Sharkey, the New York Times reporter who was in the small jet that collided with the Boeing 737 over the Brazilian Amazon says that he fears that the American pilots who flew the plane are in some kind of danger in Brazil.

In an interview to NBC, the journalist classified the air control in the area the accident occurred as terrible and put in doubt any investigation being done now by the Brazilian authorities. Sharkey said that people should remain skeptical on any kind of evidence collected by the Brazilian authorities concerning the accident.

According to the reporter, the Legacy’s pilots did not have any communication by radio after the collision. He had already told Brazilian reporters before leaving Brazil that the pilots had found the Serra do Cachimbo Air Base – the place where the landed – using maps, without any help from the control tower.

Sharkey, one of the five passengers of the Legacy, went to Brazil to write a piece on the Brazilian aviation market at the invitation of ExcelAire, the Long Island company that had bought the small jet.

On Tuesday, October 3, Sharkey wrote an article for the New York Times in which he reported on his experience aboard the plane during the ordeal after the collision against the Boeing.

Some reader who saw the article were incensed by the journalist’s celebration of the pilots’ heroism leaving in the background the tragedy of the Boeing in which the 155 people aboard died.

A reader who identified himself as T. Tornaghi commented: "Heroes? The 155 people, including children, would still be alive if the Legacy had kept to its specified route: at a 36,000 ft instead of moving to a 37,000 ft."

Lorena, another reader, wrote: "I am happy to hear the author is well despite having been through a frightening 30 minutes on the air. However, I would appreciate it if the author refrained from referring to the two jet pilots as heroes at this point.

"There is a lot of evidence coming through which points to the Legacy having been at an unauthorized altitude level of 37,000 feet (as confirmed by the author himself), when they apparently should have been at 36,000 feet.

"I won’t be quick to jump to conclusions but if the above mentioned fact is confirmed the two pilots would be a far cry from a pair of heroes. Let’s remember that the true heroes in this story are the 155 victims who lost their lives, their families and the people working hard to recover the bodies and help heal the loss brought by such a horrible accident.

"Let’s all hope the author’s heroes do not turn out to have been mass murderers."


  • Show Comments (14)

  • Márcio Osório

    I think many of us here have covered all the aspects of the crash. I hope no one gets punished. If the pilots and the 155 crash victims won’t get away with, they somehow will fly away with it.

    “Fly away, skyline pigeon,
    Towards the dreams
    You’ve left so very far behind” –[i]Elton John[/i]

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    IÀ¢€™ve tried to continue to follow this story in the American media and after reading your response did a Google news search to see where I may be off base. Most of what I see in the US media is the reporting of facts as they had them at the time with few conclusions drawn. I have not been able to find his CNN telephone interview but it seems to me that in general Joe Stuckey has been unjustly depicted in the Brazilian media as an insensitive and anti-Brazilian demagogue. Not true.

    My perception is that this is a kind of culture war and we all should be concerned. I want better relations in this hemisphere. The airplane crash is a tragedy and it would be completely consistent with American tradition and laws that if someone is found criminally negligent that there should be consequences irrespective of his nationality. The thing that makes me feel insecure and troubled is that as an American in Brazil, if I am somehow involved in a complicated incident, will I be considered prematurely suspect/culpable by some overzealous prosecutor/judge before he has all the facts (because of my place of birth). Will I need to hire a former justice minister to protect myself?

    By the way I have the same concern if a Brazilian in the US was prematurely judged without all the facts available.

  • restmycase

    Some Brazilians say this reaction by americans are more than expected and innocent it is to expect something different from them. I’m sorry, were all crooks for some Americans and Americans are all crooks for some Brazilians. I guess you can feel the taste.

    this is not about nationalism here I cannot say that about American TV, media, it did sound wrong by them! Brazilians media are giving the facts.

    Os controladores de vÀƒ´o do Cindacta-1, em BrasÀƒ­lia, tentaram cinco vezes entrar em contato por rÀƒ¡dio com o jato Legacy antes da colisÀƒ£o, na sexta-feira, com o Boeing 737-800 da Gol, que causou 155 mortes. O jato ficou com o transponder (que identifica o aviÀƒ£o no radar) desligado 15 minutos antes do acidente. O Legacy sÀƒ³ voltou a ser identificado na tela jÀƒ¡ sobreposto ao Gol, com um alerta de emergÀƒªncia. As gravaÀƒ§Àƒµes da caixa-preta do Legacy confirmam os relatos dos operadores e os registros do Cindacta-1.

    O Àƒºltimo alerta de rÀƒ¡dio gravado na caixa-preta foi dado porque o jato estava no limite da cobertura do Cindacta-1 e devia passar a se comunicar com o Cindacta-4, de Manaus. O Legacy havia decolado de SÀƒ£o JosÀƒ© dos Campos e, depois de voar no eixo SÀƒ£o Paulo-BrasÀƒ­lia, seguia para Manaus. A caixa-preta registra que nÀƒ£o houve resposta dos pilotos americanos. À¢€œNela hÀƒ¡ o chamado feito pelo controle de BrasÀƒ­lia quando o jato ia passar para ManausÀ¢€Â, disse um oficial da AeronÀƒ¡utica.

    Mesmo sem resposta, o Cindacta-1 continuou a transmitir para o Legacy ÀƒÂ s cegas (À¢€œblindÀ¢€Â, no jargÀƒ£o do setor). Essa nova informaÀƒ§Àƒ£o reforÀƒ§a a hipÀƒ³tese de falha humana da tripulaÀƒ§Àƒ£o do Legacy, jÀƒ¡ que poucos minutos apÀƒ³s o impacto com o Boeing o jato voltou a se comunicar por rÀƒ¡dio com BrasÀƒ­lia.

    À¢€œEsse Àƒ© um procedimento padrÀƒ£o. Como o controle do trÀƒ¡fego aÀƒ©reo Àƒ© fundamentalmente feito por rÀƒ¡dio, a primeira medida foi tentar estabelecer contato com o piloto do LegacyÀ¢€Â, explicou um oficial da AeronÀƒ¡utica. À¢€œEnquanto isso era feito, houve a colisÀƒ£o.À¢€Â A suspeita dos peritos Àƒ© de que o comandante do Legacy, Joseph Lepore, diminuiu o volume do rÀƒ¡dio. Ou que nÀƒ£o estava na cabine na hora da colisÀƒ£o – algo que teria admitido em depoimento ÀƒÂ  polÀƒ­cia.

    No passo-a-passo reconstituÀƒ­do pelo Estado, o Legacy ignorou seu plano de vÀƒ´o. Deveria ter descido de 37 mil para 36 mil pÀƒ©s quando passou por BrasÀƒ­lia e mudou o rumo para Manaus, o que nÀƒ£o ocorreu. O sargento controlador do vÀƒ´o, que se ocupava de muitos outros aviÀƒµes na mesma hora, chamou o Legacy pelo rÀƒ¡dio pela primeira vez, questionando se o aviÀƒ£o tinha mudado a rota. Ficou sem resposta. Chamou mais quatro vezes. Àƒ€quela altura, o Legacy jÀƒ¡ estava com o transponder desligado.

    A falta do sistema nÀƒ£o faz o aviÀƒ£o desaparecer da tela do radar. Ele sÀƒ³ deixa de ser identificado pelo radar, que perde a exatidÀƒ£o da altimetria do jato. O Cindacta-1 continuava a ver o Legacy por meio do radar primÀƒ¡rio. Por ele, o controlador via a altitude aproximada do jato – quanto mais longe do radar maior a distorÀƒ§Àƒ£o na tela. O jato aparecia na tela voando numa altitude que variava de 35.800 pÀƒ©s a 36.500 pÀƒ©s. NÀƒ£o estava, portanto, em rota de colisÀƒ£o.

    Como os controladores sÀƒ£o substituÀƒ­dos a cada 1 hora e 59 minutos, o militar que monitorava o Legacy passou a missÀƒ£o para o seu substituto e avisou que ele deveria chamar o piloto americano. Foi o que o novo controlador fez, conforme registros do Cindacta-1, atÀƒ© que o controle repassou a supervisÀƒ£o do vÀƒ´o para Manaus, porque o sinal estava ficando muito fraco.

    Chamando o Cindacta-4 pelo rÀƒ¡dio, o operador de BrasÀƒ­lia alertou que o piloto nÀƒ£o estava respondendo, mas o Legacy voava no nÀƒ­vel 360 (36 mil pÀƒ©s), conforme determinado no plano de vÀƒ´o. AlÀƒ©m dos contatos por rÀƒ¡dio, a alternativa dos controladores seria acionar outras aeronaves prÀƒ³ximas para que elas fizessem uma ponte de comunicaÀƒ§Àƒ£o com o jato. À¢€œNÀƒ£o houve tempo. No momento em que BrasÀƒ­lia pediu para passar para a freqÀƒ¼Àƒªncia de Manaus Àƒ© que aconteceu (o impacto)À¢€Â, disse um perito da AeronÀƒ¡utica.

    EntÀƒ£o, o operador na torre de controle de Manaus teve a primeira indicaÀƒ§Àƒ£o da tragÀƒ©dia: a imagem do Boeing na tela do radar ficou congelada, com a do Legacy sobreposta. Em seguida, o identificador do vÀƒ´o da Gol sumiu e apareceu o do Legacy, o que significa que o transponder foi religado. Imediatamente, surgiu o registro de emergÀƒªncia, com os nÀƒºmeros 770. O Boeing, depois de sumir, ressurgiu perdendo altitude, antes de desaparecer definitivamente.

    tecnicos da AeronÀƒ¡utica insistem em dizer que nÀƒ£o houve erro no controle do operador de vÀƒ´o, assim como estÀƒ£o convencidos de que o transponder do Legacy foi desligado, embora nÀƒ£o consigam entender por quÀƒª. Como era o primeiro vÀƒ´o do jato, especialistas acreditam que o piloto poderia estar fazendo testes de navegabilidade e queria fugir ÀƒÂ  supervisÀƒ£o das torres.

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    Why can’t everyone take a deep breath, calm down and wait for the findings of a “professional” investigation by people qualified to make judgments in such a complex matter. Initial impressions in such tragedies are frequently wrong and innocent participants often unnecessarily damaged.

    It is customary and appropriate for legal officials to wait to become involved until after the professional findings indicate there is a need for such action. Are the officials saying that extradition laws between the US and Brazil are inadequate? Why not comment on that?

    When you consider the passengers and crew on this plane it has to make you wonder -, highly experienced crew with an owner operator with a credible history including a notable journalist writing a feature story and also Embraer officials. This hardly sounds like a situation where unorthodox and reckless risk taking would be expected.

    As an American citizen with family connections and much affection for Brazil it saddens me when I see such incidents become colored by nationalist emotions on either side.

  • vsf

    Drivers drive drunk and they wont disclose they’ve been drinking

    Pilots turn off the security system enabling them doing whatever they wish to do on air and they won’t be identified by authorities. Irresponsability is easy to see when it is on the light of a plane tragedy where no whatsoever machine failure was detected at a first inspection. What to expect over the fellow contrymen? I don’t even know if I’m disapointed…whatever….but I feel revolted.

  • vsf

    btw, vsf fy

  • vsf

    Arbitrary finger

    What do you call Mr. Shark plan of action? He goes to American TV, sounding hero btw, pointing how terrible brazilian air control is. I’ve heard he has got to be some specialist to say that, is he full aware of brazilian air security depts.

    To the pilot, i guess many things do not work as they do in America. Unusual is your comment. That comes to show how american pilots may not know a lot about a lot of things. Like people said, maybe like dogs they were doing some tricks in the air to the masters.

  • What?

    Here’s a link for what I believe is the NBC interview with Joe Sharkey. I don’t see any of the comments mentioned in the article above. Is there another NBC interview?

  • jgby

    This in no way to proceed
    Arbitrary finger pointing is not so good. We all hope that the true cause of this tragedy is brought to light, but understand that the nastiness of such dialogue that we see here will not facilitate this.

  • Guest

    First subterfuge used to win a conflict: discredit the involved.

    A question: who hit who?

    Here on this article and the NBC interview with NYT (an opinion among others over NYT: a number of good articles but media ethics seems to still have a corridor there, soÀ¢€¦ ) journalist Joe Sharkey (shark but it could be old fox) the point is not to search for the truth and provide us with information but the major preoccupation is: will the American pilots À¢€œheroesÀ¢€Â face the blame for the tragedy? Hero Joe Shark says À¢€œwe need to be careful to evaluate because these guys earn some pearlÀ¢€Â. Basically because the pilots saved their asses. Just before, in the interview, he and the commentator agreed that it is unlikely that the Boeing hit the jet, in this case the jet would be the one going down. The pilot already admitted that he turned off the transponder. Authorities argue the pilots would fly on a higher altitude to gain speed. Also, the Boeing is a career commercial plane, which itinerary is habitual. What there is: two planes unusually collided in the air. And someone must be wrong. That is not in the range of these view. Another question: Why?

  • What?

    I’m at a loss to understand the comments of the previous poster.

    I read the NY Times article by Joe Sharkey in it’s entirety when it came out. What he said was that they didn’t know for sure what had happened until they landed and were told by officials at the air base. He goes on to say that their feeling of elation at having landed safely turned into horror at learning of the losst 737.

    As a pilot myself, albeit small planes, it does seem unusual that ATC (Air Traffic Control) would have 2 centers responsible for the same airspace. Doesn’t work that way in the US.

    Also, the comments by the Brazilian Air Force, cited elsewhere on this site, that the Legacy pilots had turned off their transponder, radio, TCAS, etc. seems very unlikely. No pilot would ever do those things intentionally.

  • Guest

    This imbecil maniac doesn’t even know what hes talking about anymore

    You fuck see how your imbecilidade is going to ruin you. Are you paid or something to post and fill the blank?

  • Europe

    and what about if…
    ….the following extract of an article that appeared also in 0’Globo is correct (not translated by me) :
    RIO DE JANEIRO: Miscommunication between air traffic controllers was probably to blame for Brazil’s deadliest-ever plane crash last week in which 155 people died, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported.

    The midair collision of a Boeing 737-800 and a smaller, twin-engine private plane occurred on Friday. Both machines flew into an air traffic control region in the state of Para jointly controlled from two separate towers, O Globo reported on Monday, citing a Brazilian air traffic control official speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Controllers in the two towers failed to discuss that the planes were entering the same airspace and instead assigned similar flight altitudes to their respective planes, leading to the collision, O Globo reported.

  • Europe

    No doubt in my mind…….
    – that the true heroes are the 155 victims !
    – that the NYT reporter is right in having doubts about the Brazilian Justice. Just look at how many politicians recognized as guilty by the Federal investigators in the many corruptions scandals…..have been absolved… in a secret vote….by the other congressmen……just as corrupted as those they absolved ! This amount of money they have stolen….could have saved far more than 155 brazilians lives in Brazil where poverty and lack of healthcare is natural….for the Brazilian Government……as they do very little to fight poverty even when they include their pride and “prowess” of the Bolsa Familia….but in reality provide ONLY 2 % of the Federal Budget to more than 20 % of the poorest citizens.

    Yesss, where is the Brazilian Justice ? Just as corrupted as the Brazilian politicians. Afterall the Brazilian Justice is chosen by the corrupted politicians.

    Finally where are YOUR heroes, members of the different Deaths Squads, killing innocent brazilian children….voluntarily ???? None are in jail ! Strange…..isnt it ?
    And where are your police killings innocent citizens by the hundreds annually ? Few are in jail or have been accused of murders ! Strange…..isnt it ?

    That is the unfortunate reality of the Brazilian Justice !

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